Electoral/Political Party Reform: Lomé Peace Agreement

ARTICLE III: TRANSFORMATION OF THE RUF INTO A POLITICAL PARTY

1. The Government of Sierra Leone shall accord every facility to the RUF to transform itself into a political party and enter the mainstream of the democratic process. To that end:

2. Immediately upon the signing of the present Agreement, the RUF shall commence to organize itself to function as a political movement, with the rights, privileges and duties accorded to all political parties in Sierra Leone. These include the freedom to publish, unhindered access to the media, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to mobilize and associate freely.

3. Within a period of thirty days, following the signing of the present Agreement, the necessary legal steps shall be taken by the Government of Sierra Leone to enable the RUF to register as a political party.

4. The Parties shall approach the International Community with a view to mobilizing resources for the purposes of enabling the RUF to function as a political party. These resources may include but shall not be limited to:

(i) Setting up a trust fund;
(ii) Training for RUF membership in party organization and functions; and
(iii) Providing any other assistance necessary for achieving the goals of this section.

ARTICLE IV: ENABLING MEMBERS OF THE RUF TO HOLD PUBLIC OFFICE

1. The Government of Sierra Leone shall take the necessary steps to enable those RUF members nominated by the RUF to hold public office, within the time-frames agreed and contained in the present Agreement for the integration of the various bodies named herein.

2. Accordingly, necessary legal steps shall be taken by the Government of Sierra Leone, within a period of fourteen days following the signing of the present Agreement, to amend relevant laws and regulations that may constitute an impediment or bar to RUF and AFRC personnel holding public office.

3. Within seven days of the removal of any such legal impediments, both parties shall meet to discuss and agree on the appointment of RUF members to positions in parastatals, diplomacy and any other public sector.

ARTICLE XII: NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION

1. A new independent National Electoral Commission (hereinafter termed the NEC) shall be set up by the Government, not later than three months after the signing of the present Agreement.

2. In setting up the new NEC the President shall consult all political parties, including the RUF, to determine the membership and terms of reference of the Commission, paying particular attention to the need for a level playing field in the nations elections.

3. No member of the NEC shall be eligible for appointment to political office by any government formed as a result of an election he or she was mandated to conduct.

4. The NEC shall request the assistance of the International Community, including the UN, the OAU, ECOWAS and the Commonwealth of Nations, in monitoring the next presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone.

Implementation History

1999

Intermediate Implementation

On July 23, 1999, Parliament passed the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone Participation in Political and Democratic Process Act, 1999 (No. 4 of 1999). The Act facilitated the transformation of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone into a political movement and the assumption by members of the Front of any public offices assigned to them pursuant to the Lomé Peace Agreement. On the same day, Parliament also passed the Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and development Act, 1999 (No. 5 of 1999), as provided for under Article XXVIII of the Lomé Peace Agreement.1 This Act allowed the RUF to participate in the transitional government.

A fund was to be established to assist the RUF in its transformation into a political party, but this fund did not materialized.2

  • 1. "Laws of Sierra Leone," accessed October 14, 2010, http://www.sierra-leone.org/laws.html.
  • 2. Anders Nilsson, "Dangerous Liaisons: Why Ex-Combatants Return to Violence" (PhD diss., Uppsala University, 2008).
2000

Intermediate Implementation

No efforts were made to reform the electoral system, though the People’s Democratic Party demanded the improvement of the Electoral Commission’s capacity.3

  • 3. "Sierra Leone; Improve The Electoral Commission, Pleads Osman Kamara," Africa News, March 23, 2000.
2001

Intermediate Implementation

Twenty-one political parties met on August 9, 2001 to map out the type of electoral system for the forthcoming elections. The various parties met with the National Election Commissioner, who earlier wrote to the Attorney General, Mr Solomon Berewa, notifying him that the various parties had denounced the current proportional representation system in Parliament.4

The letter read as follows:

“The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has apparently discarded the Proportional Representation (PR) and constituency- based systems of elections. In a letter dated 20 July written by the NEC Chairman, Mr.Walter Nicol to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Berewa, it was stated that the PR system used in the 1996 elections be discarded. Nicol noted that the overwhelming majority of people were dissatisfied with the National List Proportional Representation (NLPR) system used for the 1996 parliamentary elections and would prefer constituency-based elections. "However, extant conditions are not favourable for realistically dividing present-day Sierra Leone into equitable single member constituencies," the seven- page letter stated. The letter went on, "it would be absolutely necessary to get as close as practicable to constituency-based elections, preferably without having to actually draw constituency boundaries. For this purpose, it may be possible to regard the existing 14 electoral district as big constituencies, each of which would then elect a number of MPs en-block. This system could be called the District Block Representation (DBR) system. NEC says that in this system, a district would not be further sub-divided into constituencies. "All parties contesting the elections in the district would compete for the block of seats allocated to the particular district by parliament. The contesting parties would be allocated seats from the district's number of MPs on the basis of their proportional share of the total district vote." NEC is recommending six parliamentary seats for each district in the Northern, Eastern, and Southern Provinces, and seven seats for each of the two electoral districts in the Western Area. The increased number of seats in the Western Area is, "to make up for the fact that these two districts would not elect Paramount Chief Members of Parliament under the proposed system. "In all, there would be a total of 98 MPs, consisting of 86 ordinary Members and 12 Paramount Chiefs Members. The regional distribution of the 86 seats would be: Northern - 30; Eastern - 18; Western - 14, and Southern 24." Political parties, including the ruling SLPP, have disapproved of the NEC's proposal. "We don't understand what NEC is up to, their business is to conduct elections not recommend what the people do not want," the interim NUP leader, John Benjamin, remarked.”5

The All Political Parties Association (APPA), a body representing some registered political parties in Sierra Leone, expressed its dissatisfaction with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and said it must be dissolved before elections take place in 2002.6

Parliamentary and Presidential elections were scheduled for May 2002. However, on October 4, 2001, Sierra Leone's National Electoral Commission announced the suspension of the registration of voters for the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. “The commission's acting chairman, Alhaji Musa King, told journalists that the suspension was due to the low speed of taking arms away from different groups in many parts of the country.” 7

Parliament passed the Constitution of Sierra Leone (Amendment) Act, 2001 (No. 15, 2001) on issues related to electoral law.8

  • 4. "Sierra Leone: Political parties meet to "map" electoral system for next election," BBC Monitoring Africa, August 9, 2001.
  • 5. "Sierra Leone; National Electoral Commission Discards PR, Constituency-Based Election," Africa News, August 11, 2001.
  • 6. "Sierra Leone; Political Parties Want Electoral Commission Dissolved," Africa News, September 21, 2001.
  • 7. "Sierra Leone: National Electoral Commission suspends voter registration," BBC Monitoring Africa, October 5, 2001.
  • 8. "Laws of Sierra Leone."
2002

Full Implementation

On February 7, 2002, the Parliament adopted the first-past-the-post electoral system by adopting The Electoral Laws Act, 2002 [No. 2 of 2002]. On the same day, February 7, 2002, Parliament adopted the National Electoral Commission Act, 2002 [No. 1 of 2002].

On February 21, 2002, the Sierra Leone Parliament adopted The Political Parties Act, 2002 [No. 3 of 2002]. The Act established the Political Parties Registration Commission for the registration and regulation of the conduct of political parties in accordance with sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution and provided for related matters. This act repealed the Political Parties Act, 1995 and the Political Parties (Regulation of Conduct) Act, 1995. Amended 2002 (No. 6 of 2002).9

  • 9. "Laws of Sierra Leone."
2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2008

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.