A coalition of civil society organisations comprising the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR), Fifty-Fifty Group (50/50), Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), Christian Aid, Purposeful, Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI), Campaign for Good Government(CGG); Women’s Forum, and the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) has called for Zipper System in listing party candidates, and a lower threshold of votes to win a Parliamentary and Local Council Seat in the 2023 general elections.

They made the call to the Parliament of Sierra Leone and other stakeholders in a press release issued today, Tuesday 15 November, 2022.

The CSOs stated that they appreciate the strong political will demonstrated by both the governing and opposition parties in passing the 2022 Public Election Act, which could increase women’s representation to minimum 30% in parliament and local councils.

They also noted that they appreciate the current review in parliament of the GEWE Bill and hope that this will be passed.

“Both pieces of legislation hold great promise for women of Sierra Leone. We believe that with more effort, Sierra Leone could join other progressive countries around the world to achieve 50% representation of women in parliament and local councils by 2023 and make our politics truly inclusive,” the CSOs stated.

They further noted that, “As we await the discussion on the regulations for implementation of the PR system, we present these two recommendations for the attention of parliament and other stakeholders:

a. Parliament and the Electoral Commission to adopt a zipper system in the placement of candidates on the party list in the PR system. The zipper system requires that in developing a list for every district, parties alternate between women and men on their candidate lists, meaning that 50% of the candidates are women and 50% are men. We believe that given the deep societal divisions in Sierra Leone, and that women make up more than 50% of the electorate, achieving gender parity in the legislature and local councils is an essential condition for democratic representation and inclusive development. It will also ensure the country meets its domestic and international commitments on promotion of women’s representation.

b. We strongly urge parliament to adopt an 8% threshold for winning an MP seat, as opposed to the 12% utilized in the 2002 election. We call for a lower threshold for two reasons: a) to make our election as inclusive as possible by ensuring that smaller parties and independent candidates have the chance to win seats; and (b) to increase the chances for every Sierra Leonean vote cast to translate into seats won. A lower threshold will minimise the waste of votes and increase citizens’ confidence and trust in the electoral process. Every vote will make a difference to the election outcome, however small.”

The CSOs reiterated their commitment to continue working with stakeholders in ensuring a free, fair, credible, and acceptable elections as well as increased citizens involvement with the process.