Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 24th January 2023, voted against the annulment of the Public Election Petition Act 2022, after a motion was raised by the leader of the opposition, Hon. Chernor R.M Bah.

Twenty-Two members of the main opposition in parliament voted in favor of the motion and Forty-Two members voted against it and four members from the NGC refrained from voting, but the motion required a two-thirds vote for annulment.

While presenting the motion, the Opposition Leader said thus: “That by Section 170 (7) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991; in tandem with S.O. 25 (2) I move that the documents entitled: The Public Elections (Petitions) Rules, 2022, The Public Elections (Petitions) Rules, 2022 (Act No. 17 of 2022), Statutory Instrument No. ( 16 of 2022, which was laid on the Table of the House on Wednesday 21st December 2022, because:

1. It goes against the ECOWAS protocol on good governance and democracy and,

2. Does not capture and cater for all elections be debated and annulled by this Honourable House”.

He stated the motion was clear, simple, and specific, but said the Instruments were laid on the 21st of December 2022 and that the upcoming elections are due on the 24th of June 2023 and that it was against the ECOWAS protocol.

The opposition leader also stated that the law to be used for electoral purposes should not be younger than six months and that the protocol was mandatory and secondly it has not captured all elections.

Seconding the motion, Hon. Dr. Mark Mahmoud Kalokoh referred to the revised 2006 ECOWAS Protocol Section 2 Article 2. He reads, “No substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws in the last six months before the election”, and said the protocol was mandatory.

The MP predicted his debate on the grounds of preventing an internal crisis, and upholding the rule of law, human rights, and democracy and stated that Sierra Leone is a member of the ECOWAS Community, and added that, the document has excluded the presidential election and described it as null and void. He asked the House to disregard the documents.

In his response, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas stated that the rules on petitions did not go against the ECOWAS Protocol and referred to the same Article 2 of the said protocol. He clarified and substantiated that the rules on petitions did not also go against the electoral laws of Sierra Leone. He spoke on the difference between procedural and substantive laws and asked the House not to waste time but to vote against the motion before the House.

Both the Deputy Speaker and Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas and Opposition Leader Hon. Chernor R.M. Bah, given their positions on the motion before the House, and as lawyers, they argued constructively on the dichotomy between procedural and substantive laws.