The next Parliament after the June 24, 2023 multi-tier elections will be inundated with women. This was revealed at an Election Stakeholders and Civil Society engagement at the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL) Conference room on Thursday 30th March, 2023.
The next Parliament will see the new Gender Empowerment Act 2021 at play. The act being an act to make provision for a minimum of 30% quota for elective and appointive public officer positions.
The purpose of the meeting was to engage stakeholders on candidate’s nomination procedures and give a general update on the Commission’s preparedness for the June2023 elections. This year, the Proportional Representation system will be used to elect Members of Parliament and local councilors, while the First-Past-The-Post (Simple majority) be used to elect Chairpersons and mayors. The Two rounds system will only be used for the presidential elections. Each district has been allotted a number of seats for which they should send nominees.
Political parties will therefore send names of their candidates to ECSL, with their most needed at the top of the list, according to their allotted spaces in the given district. They have also been mandated to nominate at least one woman for every four persons nominated. Each political party will also be expected to send in names of twice the number of their allotted spaces. For instance, Western Urban has been allotted 16 seats. Therefore, each political party should send in Thirty-Two names eight of them women with at least the name of a woman after every three.
According to ECSL, One hundred and thirty –five seats have been allocated to the sixteen district blocks with Kailahun, Kenema and Kono getting 32 seats. Bombali, Falaba, Tonkolili and Koinadugu will together get 26 seats while Kambia, Karene and Port Loko get 21 seats. Bo, Bonthe, Moyamba and Pujehun will get 30 seats and Western Urban and Rural will together get 26 seats.
The Chief Electoral Commissioner Mohamed Konneh explained that the PR system will give opportunity to smaller parties and Independent candidates to have a seat in parliament and Local Councils and will be cost effective as bye elections will be a thing of the past. He pointed out that unlike the first-past the post, where a candidate is elected with a small number of votes unused, PR uses most of the votes castin determining percentage of seats won.