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Concerns over SLAJ’s biennial conference

7 March 2011 at 21:00 | 716 views

By Mustapha Sesay, Outgoing National Secretary General.

I wish to draw the attention of the general membership of SLAJ and the
public that serious concerns have been raised over the inconsistent
and irregular manner in which the overdue SLAJ Biennial Conference and
Elections are being planned and executed by the embattled Umaru Fofana
faction of the outgoing National Executive. The Biennial Conference
and Elections were slated for November and December 2010 respectively
at the 2009 Annual General Meeting.

Contrary to the March 4, 2011 Press Release from the Assistant
Secretary General, Ismeal Koroma, attributed to the SLAJ Chief
Electoral Commissioner, Ransford S. C Wright, titled ‘Elections of
SLAJ National and Regional Executives’, nomination forms which were to
be at the SLAJ offices today March 7, 2011, are neither available at
the National Headquarters nor the Regional Secretariats. The press
release in question terminated the life of the executive, announced
nominations and the date and venue for the National and Regional
Elections.

Also, the voters’ lists which the release claimed had been on display
since Friday, March 4 are neither on display nor available anywhere
within these offices even at the close of business today.

Moreover, as the Biennial Conference and the Elections are critical
components of the democratic process, all SLAJ members are reminded
that limiting the elections to delegates at the Biennial Conference
clearly violates the 2003 AGM resolutions which separated the Biennial
Conference from the National and Regional Elections.

It is also worth emphasising that AGM resolutions and conventions form
part of and have the same force of law as other Constitutional
provisions, and can only be revoked by other AGM resolutions or
Constitutional amendments whichever supersedes, to be effected during
the next election two years later. Hence, limiting the elections to
the Biennial Conference could either be an omission by the Electoral
Commission or a calculated ploy by the Umaru Fofana faction of the
outgoing executive to deprive over 300 members who have voting rights,
but are not chanced to attend the conference.

Again, voting in proxy forms part of the last three SLAJ National and
Regional Elections; and gives everyone the right to exercise his/her
franchise whether he/she is within or outside the country as long as
he/she is fully paid up.

Moreover, holding the Biennial in Kenema violates the same resolutions
which stipulated that all Biennial Conferences must be held in
Freetown and AGMs in the provinces on rotational basis.

It is also worth noting that the Electoral Commission is an
independent body and not an extension of the executive. Therefore, the
outgoing/outgone Assistant Secretary General has no right to issue a
release from or on behalf of the Commission, which is tantamount to
undermining its independence and authority, especially when it has
been confirmed that he is also an intending aspirant.

Equally so, I personally believe that it is improper for the SLAJ
Secretariat to sell nomination forms on behalf of the Electoral
Commission, a supposedly independent organ of the association.

As an intending presidential aspirant myself and administrative head
of the National Secretariat, I cannot subscribe to any procedure that
constitutes a clear violation of our constitution and conventions.

In addition, contrary to the one week allocated for campaigning, the
constitution stipulates at least one full month (Article12.7) after
the closure of nomination. In this case it is limited to only one
week.

Finally, according to Article 12.8, registration of new members which
is still ongoing, illegally though, “shall cease at least 90 days to
the start of the Biennial Conference”.

It is therefore hoped that the Electoral Commission will take the
necessary actions to remedy this situation which is already breeding
discontent among members.

I wish to take this opportunity to urge the UNDP which has agreed to
exclusively fund the Conference to withhold the funds for now until
proper system is in place for the conduct of the conference and the
elections.

Otherwise, there is no doubt that with the glaring lack of respect for
procedure in the management and administration of SLAJ those funds
stand the risk of being mismanaged.

— 
Regards,

Mustapha Sesay

Outgoing National Secretary General, SLAJ

Phone: +232 76 652556, +232 77 653556,

+ 232 33 652556

Facebook: Mustapha M K Sesay

Twitter: MustaphaSesay

Netlog: MustaphaSesay

Skype: MustaphaSesay2011

Flickr: Mustapha M K Sesay

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