7 August 2017

Sierra Leone: 'We Have Enough Time to Conduct Referendum Before Elections'

President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has stated that there is still enough time to conduct the much anticipated referendum before the country's multitier elections that is slated for March 7th, 2018.

There had been heated debates among political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs) about the country's move to conduct a referendum. Some are of the view that a referendum should be conducted before elections, while others opine that due to the state of the country's economy, elections should be conducted before referendum.

Organising Secretary for the Citizens' Democratic Party (CDP), Julius Augustine Donnie, had called on government to conduct elections before referendum, citing appalling economic condition.

However, President Koroma, who was responding to questions from the media during a press conference held on Monday at State House in Freetown, where the Ivorian President, Alassane Dramane Ouattara, was awarded and decorated with the Grand Commander of the Order of Rokel (GCOR), confirmed that discussions were at an advance stage for the conduct of the referendum before elections, stating that there were not much controversial issues in the CRC report.

President Koroma said the referendum in itself is a process and that the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), has completed its work and had presented report to government through the Attorney General's Office.

"We have been looking at proposals that were submitted to cabinet. I would confirm to you that the proposals are now in cabinet for discussions. Cabinet would soon present a white paper to parliament and it would be left with them to review it and come up with a proposal that would be forwarded for a referendum," he said.

"For me, I believe that we still have enough time to do the referendum because the issues that have been submitted so far are not controversial. Those issues have been considered by cabinet and we believe that there will be no major changes. There will be no review of the term limit of the president as we are going to continue with the two term limit," he said.

"There are other issues that cabinet has agreed upon that will be submitted and made public very soon."

He said he was sure that by the next sitting of cabinet, the public would be informed about the outcome of their consideration of the recommendations of the CRC.

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