Cross-party conspiracy to change Sierra Leone’s constitution?

Pamela Johnson

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2016

Sierra Leone ParliamentA secret plan by a small group of cross-party parliamentarians in Sierra Leone to amend the 1991 Constitution, so as to promote their own narrow and personal political interests has been exposed.

Many people in the country that have heard about this diabolical scheme are referring to the plan as a recipe for stiff resistance and chaos, and a threat to national security.

The secret plan by certain members of parliament is to amend the qualifications for the presidential candidacy as stipulated in Section 41 of 1991 Constitution, in order to exclude certain individuals from contesting the presidential election in 2018.

Unofficial report from parliament says that this small group of parliamentarians from both the ruling APC and SLPP, have been holding secret meetings to put forward the amendment to Section 41.

A parliamentary source said that one of the proposals which have been discussed to amend Section 41 is to limit the eligibility for the presidency only to holders of elective office, which will disqualify all those who are aspiring to contest for the presidency, but are presently not holders of elective office.

Alie Kabba and Maada BioSources say the amendment has been secretly planned to target Maada Bio and others, but by proposing to limit the eligibility for the presidency only to holders of elective office, many aspirants from both APC and SLPP will be affected.

A senior member of staff in the country’s parliament revealed that some senior parliamentarians in both the ruling APC and SLPP are planning to throw their hats into the ring to contest the flagbearership election in their respective parties.

They want to use the constitution amendment as a legal platform.

Bernadette LahaiIt is unclear how many members of parliament have been involved in the secret meetings for the proposed amendment, but it is understood that SLPP’s Bernadette Lahai and APC’s Ibrahim Bundu who is the majority leader of parliament are the ringleaders, planning to put together this amendment to Section 41.

Other members of parliament who have been named in the planning are APC’s Leonard Fofanah and Claude Kamanda, and SLPP’s Ansu Jaia Kaikai and Sidie Tunis.

Some members of the public have also been reacting to the news of the secret plan by parliamentarians.  A university student, Mohamed Turay, said; “Any clandestine plan by MPs to amend Section 41 of the constitution without the consent of the people, will be a recipe for stiff resistance and chaos to the extent of putting its movers in harm’s way. If the MPs think this is not an abuse of parliamentary power, they should not be afraid to subject the validity of their secret proposals to public scrutiny through the CRC.”

ParliamentariansA university lecturer also expressed a strong indignation: “Many of the MPs from both parties are selfish and they do not care about their abuse and misuse of parliamentary power. The Office of National Security should see such a secret plan as a threat to national security and public peace.”

An APC youth – Santigie, who was also critical of such secret plan by MPs, said: “If MPs want to contest for the presidency through their parties, they need to campaign to their party members to become presidential candidates and not misuse their powers. By targeting candidates who are outside of parliament, the MPs will be hijacking the democratic process. It should be up to the voters to decide who will succeed President Koroma and not some few power-drunk MPs.”

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1 Comment

  1. We now know what motivated the sad event that took place in the SLPP main office against the presidential aspirants; this was the plot making the round within the SLPP and APC high ranks. This plot is a flagrant violation of the rule of law, the national constitution and our democratic values.

    These findings corroborate the thesis I put forward in my last comment on 5 June that the APC and SLPP are in tandem for political power dominance by hook or crook, over the ordinary people of Sierra Leone. The Judiciary must investigate this issue thoroughly and bring forward the perpetrators to book.

    Sierra Leoneans shouldn’t be surprised to see the APC and SLPP teaming up together if they find themselves in danger of losing their power grip in 2018 general and presidential elections. They will likely go into a power share pact to govern in turn to keep the status quo in place.

    The attitude of the SLPP authorities towards important members of the party and well known presidential aspirants is indeed disturbing; it is even more disturbing to the people for such deliberate scorn and disrespect of the code of ethics and established protocols. It is an attempt to cast the aspirants aside.

    To simply say “chief say, the program don change“ to important personalities whom were invited on the same day to attend party meeting and until their arrival at the venue does not seem a serious dispensation of duty. It means they were invited just to belittle and spite them; such behavior is out of tune for serious and conscientious administrators of a political party.

    My doubt about the SLPP doing better in governance than the APC is questionable. They are too busy with in-house conflicts, the struggle for presidential power than doing their homework properly.

    As the saying goes “charity begins at home”, with this attitude what trust will the people have in the party, when authorities of the party do not abide by the rule of law, but the abuse of authority and power. The same attitude we condemn about the incumbent APC government.

    They both share the same political doctrine. Reasons why the SLPP had always remained quiet silence and inactive to challenge the flagrant violation of the rule of law, and flaws of government polices.

    The SLPP expects the electorates will dish them out votes on a golden platter as they believe are the only alternative to take the reins of governance when the APC gets the boot in 2018. Actually, with reference to their political performance they do not inspire hope to the people except for its die-hard supporters.

    No one of the SLPP presidential aspirants will be capable of changing the mind set of its old and powerful cronies in the party.

    A political and social transformation can only be possible when a new political party with a cross-section representation of prominent personalities capable of posing serious challenge to the two party system in the country emerges.

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