The Bill contains one provision which states that the registration of voters and conduct of elections in every constituency shall be subject to the direction or supervision of the electoral commission and the commission should cause the register of voters to be revised once every three years provided that where the register of voters has not been reviewed, according to its provisions, its provides that bye-elections are to be conducted using the existing register of voters.
Debating the Bill, the Sierra Leones Peoples Party (SLPP) Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Paran Tarawally said the Amendment is very important, stating that there are people out there that needed to be represented in Parliament “but in that exercise, we do not want to see the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) behaving like an extension of the National Electoral Commission (NEC)”.
He disclosed that there are instances of bye-elections where people will complain to the SLP that their Voter Identity Cards have been missing and that “based on the complaint, the SLP will approach NEC officials for those people to vote without their Voter Identity Card. We don’t want to see such practise again, only those with the appropriate identity Cards and their names on the existing voters list must be allowed to vote”.
In contrast, the ruling MP, Hon. Alhassan Kamara, said “we have faith in our police force for the security and welfare of our people. If there are any plans to cause confusion then you will face the police. We have our people who want to be represented. So the Amendment is important and should be approved by the House”.
According to the Minority Leader of Parliament, Honourable Bernadette Lahai, every three years the voter register must be revised explaining that the reason is because there are people who have attained voting age and also there are others in the diaspora who might want to be part of the democratic process they must be allowed to be registered.
She furthered that in this case, they have their colleagues, the late Hon. Amb. Patrick Foyah who is no longer in the House and Hon. Isata Kabia who is now in the executive, that needs to be replaced in the House, explaining that the Bill is just saying that lets continue to use the existing voter list for this bye election and any other election. “It is important that we approve it”.
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu said “we respond to situation that calls for urgent address”.
Before the approval of the Bill, they voted by a role call wherein each member of the House consented by saying “I” and those against saying “nay”.
At the end, 81 members consented for the approval of the bill, five SLPP members including Hon. Sidi Tunis, Hon. Dixon N. Rogers, Hon. Paran Tarawally, among others, disagreed and 33 absent therefore, the Bill was approved.
Those members who did not agree for the Bill to be approved said they agreed that the Bill is important but there were some things that needed to be tidied up.