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    Sierra Leone-Election-Debate

    S/Leone presidential debate: Excluded parties cry foul

    APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone)

    Ten of Sierra Leone’s opposition parties have condemned the exclusion of their candidates in this week’s presidential debate, vowing to challenge it in court.

    An aggrieved presidential candidate who claimed to speak on behalf of his colleagues said Tuesday they were seeking a court injunction to halt the debate.

    Organisers of the highly publicized debate which is scheduled for Thursday, February 15 in Freetown decided to accommodate only six of the 16 political parties contesting the March 7 presidency.

    Mohamed C Bah, presidential candidates for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), described the decision as an affront to democracy and goes against the spirit of inclusive democracy.

    “We do not have small parties. We are all national parties with the aspiration to shape the will of the people of Sierra Leone,” he said.

    The debate, which will be moderated by renowned Sierra Leonean BBC journalist, Hassan Arouni, is being organized by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, in collaboration with the larger civil society community, including the Independent Radio Network, the National Electoral Commission and the Political Parties Registration Commission.

    The six candidates selected are from the incumbent All People’s Congress, the Sierra Leone People’s Party, the Alliance Democratic Party, the Coalition For Change, the National Grand Coalition, and the Citizen Democratic Party.

    The organisers said they arrived at the choice of candidates on the basis of a selection criteria that considered parties that fielded candidates for at least 25 percent of the mayoral, council and parliamentary seats.

    The debate will be hosted at the Bintumani Conference Center in Aberdeen in Freetown, where plans are underway to broadcast the programme live across all TV and radio stations across the country.

    Bah, the NDA candidate, said they felt the criteria was discriminatory and deprived the other parties the right to be heard by the electorate to enable them make an informed choice at the ballot box.

    He said lawyers of the aggrieved parties had sent letters to the organisers, formally making their protest.

    “And we hope and pray that the competent court in this land will halt the debate,” he said.


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