Registration of voters.
31. Every citizen of Sierra Leone being eighteen years of age and above and of sound mind shall have the right to vote, and accordingly shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.
(1) There shall be an Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone.
(2) The members of the Electoral Commission shall be a Chief Electoral Commissioner, who shall be Chairman, and four other members who shall be known as Electoral Commissioners.
(3) The members of the Electoral Commission shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the leaders of all registered political parties and subject to the approval of Parliament.
(4) A person shall not be qualified—
- for appointment as a member of the Electoral Commission if he is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament, or
- to hold office as a member of the Electoral Commission if he is a Minister, a Deputy Minister, a Member of Parliament, or a public officer, or if he has attained the age of sixty-five years.
(5) The terms and conditions of service of members of the Electoral Commission shall be such as Parliament shall prescribe.
(6) A member of the Electoral Commission shall before assuming the functions of his office, take and subscribe before the President the Oath as set out in the Third Schedule to this Constitution.
(7) Subject to the provisions of this section, a member of the Electoral Commission shall vacate his office—
- at the expiration of five years from the date of his appointment; or
- on attaining the age of sixty-five years; or
- if any circumstances arise which, if he were not a member of the Commission, would cause him to be disqualified for appointment as such.
(8) A member of the Electoral Commission may be removed from office by the President for inability to discharge functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misbehaviour.
(9) A member of the Electoral Commission shall not be removed from office except in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(10) Whenever a member of the Electoral Commission dies, resigns, is removed from office, or is absent from Sierra Leone, or is by reason of illness or any other cause unable to perform the functions of his office, the President may appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed Electoral Commissioner and any person so appointed shall, subject to the provisions of subsections (6) and (7), continue to perform those functions until his appointment is revoked by the President, or until the Electoral Commissioner is able to perform those functions, or until the appointment of a new Electoral Commissioner.
(11) In the exercise of any functions vested in it by the Constitution, the Electoral Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.
(12) the Chief Electoral Commissioner shall submit a report on the programme and work of the Electoral Commission at least once a year to the President and a copy of such report shall be laid before Parliament.
Functions of the Electoral Commission.
33. Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Commission shall be responsible for the conduct and supervision of the registration of voters for, and of, all public elections and referenda; and for that purpose shall have power to make regulations by statutory instrument for the registration of voters, the conduct of Presidential, Parliamentary or Local Government elections and referenda, and other matters connected therewith, including regulations for voting by proxy.
Political Parties Registration Commission.
(1) There shall be a Political Parties Registration Commission which shall consist of four members appointed by the President, namely—
- the Chairman of the Commission, who shall be a person who has held Judicial office or is qualified to be appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Judicature nominated by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission;
- the Chief Electoral Commissioner;
- a legal practitioner nominated by the Sierra Leone Bar Association; and
- a member nominated by the Sierra Leone Labour Congress.
(2) The members of the Commission, other than the Chief Electoral Commissioner, shall be appointed by the President subject to the approval of Parliament.
(3) The Administrator and Registrar-General shall be Secretary to the Commission.
(4) The Commission shall be responsible for the registration of all political parties and for that purpose may make such regulations as may be necessary for the discharge of its responsibilities under this Constitution;
Provided that the first registration of political parties after the coming into force of this Constitution shall be undertaken by the Electoral Commission.
(5) In the exercise of any function vested in it by this Constitution, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority, save only as regards the right to appeal contained in section 35.
Registration and conduct of political parties.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, political parties may be established to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, and social and economic programmes of a national character, and to sponsor candidates for Presidential, Parliamentary or Local Government elections.
(2) The internal organisation of a political party shall conform to democratic principles, and its aims, objectives, purposes and programmes shall not contravene, or be inconsistent with, any provisions of this Constitution.
(3) A statement of the sources of income and the audited accounts of a political party, together with a statement of its assets and liabilities, shall be submitted annually to the Political Parties Registration Commission, but no such account shall be audited by a member of the political party whose account is submitted.
(4) No political party shall have as a leader a person who is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament.
(5) No association, by whatever name called, shall be registered or be allowed to operate or to function as a political party if the Political Parties Registration Commission is satisfied that—
- membership or leadership of the party is restricted to members of any particular tribal or ethnic group or religious faith; or
- the name, symbol, colour or motto of the party has exclusive or particular significance or connotation to members of any particular tribal or ethnic group or religious faith; or
- the party is formed for the sole purpose of securitng or advancing the interests and welfare of a particular tribal or ethnic group, community, geographical area or religious faith; or
- the party does not have a registered office in each of the Provincial Headquarter towns and the Western Area.
(6) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, and in furtherance of the provisions of this section, Parliament may make laws regulating the registration, functions and operation of political parties.
(7) Any association aggrieved by a decision of the Political Parties Registration Commission under this section may appeal to the Supreme Court and the decision of the Court shall be final.
(8) For the purposes of this section the expression—
- "association" includes any body of persons, corporate or incorporate, who agree to act together for any common purpose, or an association formed for any ethnic, social, cultural, occupational or religious purpose; and
- "political party" means any association registered as a political party as prescribed by subsection (5).
36. At any public elections or referenda voting shall be by secret ballot.
(1) In any referendum held pursuant to an Act of Parliament, every person who is entitled to vote in elections of Members of Parliament shall be entitled to vote at such referendum and no other person may so vote; and the issue in the referendum shall not be regarded as having been approved at that referendum unless it was so approved by the votes of not less than one-half of all such persons or by not less than two-thirds of all the valid votes cast.
(2) The conduct of any referendum for the purposes of subsection (1) shall be under the general supervision of the Electoral Commission and the provisions of Section 38 of this Constitution shall apply in relation to the exercise by the Electoral Commission of its functions with respect to a referendum as they apply in relation to the exercise of its functions with respect to elections of Members of Parliament.
(3) A Bill for an Act of Parliament under this Section shall not be submitted to the President for his assent unless it is accompanied by a certificate under the hand of the Speaker (or if the Speaker is for any reason unable to exercise the functions of this office, the Deputy Speaker) that the provisions of subsections (1), (2) and (3) of section 106 and, where appropriate, the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) have been complied with.
Constituencies and elections.
(1) Sierra Leone shall be divided into such constituencies for the purpose of electing the Members of Parliament referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 74 of this Constitution as the Electoral Commission, acting with the approval of Parliament signified by resolution of Parliament, may prescribe.
(2) Every constituency established under this section shall return one Member of Parliament.
(3) The boundaries of each constituency shall be such that the number of inhabitants thereof is as nearly equal to the population quota as is reasonably practicable.
Provided that the number of inhabitants of such a constituency may be greater or less than the population quota in order to take account of means of communications, geographical features, density of population, the distribution of different commodities, the areas and boundaries of the Chiefdoms and other administrative or traditional areas.
(4) The Electoral Commission shall review the division of Sierra Leone into constituencies at intervals of not less than five and not more than seven years, and may alter the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this section to such extent as it may consider desirable in the light of the review;
Provided that the Commission may at any time carry out such a review and alter the constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this section to such extent as it considers necessary in consequence of any alteration in the number of Members of Parliament referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 74 by reason of the holding of a census of the population of Sierra Leone in pursuance of an Act of Parliament.
(5) Where the boundaries of any constituency are altered in accordance with the provisions of this section, that alteration shall come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament after the alteration has been approved by Parliament.
(6) In this section "population quota" means the number obtained by dividing the number of inhabitants of Sierra Leone by the number of constituencies into which Sierra Leone is divided under this section.
(7) For the purposes of this section the number of inhabitants of Sierra Leone shall be ascertained by reference to the latest census of the population of Sierra Leone held in pursuance of an Act of Parliament or if no census has been so held, by reference to any available information, which in the opinion of the Electoral Commission best indicates the number of those inhabitants.
(8) The registration of voters and the conduct of elections in every constituency shall be subject to the direction and supervision of the Electoral Commission, and it shall cause the register of voters to be revised and reviewed at least once in every three years.
Filling of vacancies.
(1) When the seat of any member of Parliament becomes vacant, the vacancy shall be filled by election, not later than six months after the vacancy occurs, in accordance with the provisions of law relating to such election;
Provided that if Parliament is dissolved before such election is due to be held, the vacancy shall be filled at the general election.
(2) The Proclamation appointing a date for the holding of an election to fill a vacancy shall be published in the Gazette not less than twenty-one days before the date appointed for holding the election.