Can the parliament of Sierra Leone give president Koroma more time?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 January 2016

Sierra-Leone-ParliamentSections of supporters of the ruling APC party of Sierra Leone, are publicly calling for president Koroma to be given more time to continue in power, after his fixed two terms mandated by the constitution shall have ended next year.

They say that the call for more time is not the same as a demand for a third term.

But critics of the government and those opposed to the idea of a president overstaying his time in office, say they are both one and the same.

So why the call for more time for the president?

The main argument put forward by ruling party supporters is that the Ebola virus has not only decimated the country’s economy and destroyed lives, but robbed the president of his precious time in office.

The Ebola crisis started in March 2014 and ended in November 2015. Proponents of the more time agenda say that during this period, president Koroma was unable to discharge his duties as president, and that his government’s development plans have been put on hold.

Ask them whether the president’s salary had been frozen during this period, and you see a lot of stargazers looking up to the skies for an answer in silence.

So, if the president knew that during those troubled times, he did nothing but sat on his hands, and furthermore, being the honest Christian that he is – did not accept his monthly salary for over a year, then perhaps many in Sierra Leone may have been sympathetic to his call for more time.

But it is a known fact that in the last twelve months president Koroma has been absorbed by the Ebola crisis, once he had accepted the fact that Ebola posed a real and deadly danger to the nation.

president koroma washes hands at lungi airport 2015And as the president travelled the length and breadth of the country, talking to communities about the government’s Ebola management programme and raising much needed funds, no one argued that he was not discharging his presidential duties.

The truth is that president Koroma is now taking full credit for a job well done in defeating the Ebola virus. So how can he argue that Ebola has robbed him of his precious time to discharge his duty as a leader?

Is it not the job of a leader to respond to emergencies and national disasters, without asking for more time or overtime pay, once their contract ends?

And why is it that parliamentarians belonging to the ruling APC party, senior party grandees and cabinet ministers are not publicly demanding more time or third term for president Koroma?

APC SUPPORTERSThe answer is simple. The Sierra Leone Telegraph has learnt that over 30% of APC parliamentarians who make up the majority in the country’s parliament, are either against or not quite convinced about the need for more time for the president.

Many senior APC party executives that are opposed to the more time and third term agenda believe that politics and democracy is about achieving continuity and progress, without relying on one dominant figure.

President koroma and Alpha kanu in Brussels Feb 2015There are several contenders for the APC leadership, including the president’s cousin John Sisay, the current head of the Anti-Corruption Commission – Joseph Kamara, finance minister Marah, foreign minister Samura, and the information minister Kanu (Photo: Koroma and Kanu).

None of these potential candidates for the presidency in 2017 would like to be denied the chance to lead Sierra Leone. With the exception of Kanu, they are all much younger than president Koroma. They are believed to be against the more time and third term agenda.

Senior APC executives are confident in the belief that everyone of the candidates listed above, is more than capable of continuing the work of president Koroma when his term ends in 2017.

“I am a ruling APC party supporter, but I do not agree with the proposal for the president to continue in office for a further term to complete his developmental programme. No, no, no, this is not what democracy is all about,” says one ruling party supporter.

Opposition supporters are also calling on president Koroma to rethink his or the APC party’s idea of more time or third term in office, as this can only bring chaos to the country.

The irony is that president Koroma has said publicly that he is not interested in a third term or an extension of his stay in office.

Analysts say that should an APC member of parliament table a motion calling for an extension of the president’s term of office, and this motion is passed by a majority, the president will not refuse the offer.

But such a motion in parliament will be unconstitutional, and therefore deemed to be ultra-vires, if it is voted upon and passed.

Election in Sierra LeoneThe main principle upon which democracy rests in Sierra Leone is that, when the elected government’s fixed term is up, they must call an election.

And should the people believe that the president’s performance has been brilliant and gives hope for the future, they will re-elect his party back into office, but led by a fresh pair of hands.

What president Koroma and his ruling party cannot do is to change the rules of the political game, whilst the game is still on. This is wrong.

Later this year, a national referendum could be held in Sierra Leone to vote on a revised constitution. And one of the proposed changes citizens will be asked to vote on, may read as follows:  “Would you like to see the presidential term of office changed from two to three terms?”

Not even a majority vote for this motion can save the president’s third term ambition. He was elected on the basis of the current constitution, which does not provide for an extension of his term in office.

sirleaf and koromaIncidentally, Helen Sirleaf in neighbouring Liberia is calling for the term of office of the presidency in her country to be reduced from two terms of six years each to two terms of four years each.

Liberia will have a new constitution that will most likely reflect these changes, in time for the next elections in 2017.

Sierra Leone too will have a new constitution before the end of 2016, but it is highly unlikely the presidential term of office will be cut from two terms of five years each, to two terms of four years each.

Will the parliament of Sierra Leone vote to give more time to president Koroma?

11 Comments

  1. His Excellency Dr Ernest Koroma deserves at least one more term if not two. He is the most dynamic Leader of Africa and is the best President Sierra Leone ever had

    • Dynamic? Not a word that runs to mind when I think about Ernest Koroma. Not therefore sure what meaning you are ascribing to the word!

      But then again most adjectives can be relative. Could be right in some respects. For example, I hear his Excellency is known to be very dynamic in pulling the ladies.

      Sadly though (and very rightly) the ability to pull ladies does not rank among the person specification for the contract of a Head of State. A contract he is clearly well bent on breaching.

      (My sincere apologies to my sisters if I appear insensitive and disrespectful to them in making my point. No ill intended! I can only hope you will understand where I am coming from)

  2. I agree with Abdul Rashid Thomas for his piece: “CAN THE PARLIAMENT OF SIERRA LEONE GIVE PRESIDENT KOROMA MORE TIME?” Let me quickly add to that with the following information.

    Sierra Leone is not the only country hit by the Ebola virus disease, which has killed thousands of people. It first ravaged our neighboring countries, including Guinea and Liberia. None of these two states are asking for an extension of the presidential term limit because of the epidemic viral disease.

    On the contrary, Presidential Election was recently held in Guinea on October 2015, even before the country was declared free of EVD at the end of December 2015. And Liberia is determined to reduce the Presidential term limit from two six-year terms to two four-year terms. Please see the article below on this: “Liberia President Supports Reducing Presidential Term.”

    What is wrong with President Ernest Koroma? Please come to your senses and do what is right and just for the people of Sierra Leone. Or else step down.

    Lastly, this is what Cocorioko Kabs Kanu published: “More Time For President Ernest Koroma…However, the call for addition of the years eaten away from the president’s term by Ebola is certainly going to increase in the nation because a precedent was set by the last government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, whose term was extended by Parliament to make up for lost time following the 1997 military coup by the NPRC”.

    This statement needs to be reviewed. For it was not during the NPRC period, but AFRC. And it was a coup by the junta. Not a curable disease. I rest my pen. Thank you.

    • Dear Sierra Leoneans,

      I want you all to know that sierra Leone is a country that is governed by a constitution. It stipulates the conditions under which the life of any government in Sierra Leone may be extended by the parliament (six Months) at a time. See: Act No. 6 of 199; Life of Parliament Section 85, sub Section 1, & 2. That section will answer the voice of the market who do not understand what constitutionality is.

      I am not one bit taken aback by Kabs Kanu of Cocorioko, who profess to be a graduate of Fourah Bay College, and chief executive of the paper. He is also a profess religious man, who have been blinded by politics to the point that he cannot even rationalize, and think properly.

      How come a graduate from Fourah Bay College do not understand that Sierra Leone is a constitutional democracy? I do not know if you are asking me. All i know is, that if kabs belong to the class of Journalists he is associating himself with, he must know to ask. Is it right? Is it constitutional? and is it ethical?

      If the answers are not clear then he will research the constitution and do some brainstorming before he published that misleading article about the late president Kabba (of blessed memory!!!).

      Kabs Kanu is one of the people who have hijacked the APC and is misleading the party and the president. Yesterday he and others I will name when the time is ripe were writing against APC in the (Tablet Newspaper)…more on that later…..!!

  3. Is the president of Sierra Leone calling for war or more time? Can someone remind him that he is not the only sierra Leonean in that country that has the qualifications or credentials to rule our beloved Sierra Leone.

    It is clearly stipulated in our constitution that the presidential office cannot exceed more than two terms or more time. So therefore, if Koroma cannot read anymore, can someone please teach him how to read. Maybe he cannot comprehend what the constitution says or may be he thinks because he was able to eliminate his vice president through his rotten judicial system, thats why he can extend his stay at statehouse, even though there is a wide range of criticisms against his over stay in office.

    In this regard, I must admonish all Sierra Leoneans to work together in the name of democracy and say NO to Koroma’s rotten system. The democracy that some of our leaders fought for, cannot be robbed away by the Koroma reckless government, whose main objective is to steal from government’s coffers and leave the rest of the people in economic misery.

  4. This article reads more like an opinion column by the Author, because he made too many assumptions. For instance he said ” so how can he argue that Ebola has robbed him of his precious time to discharge his duty as a leader?” can you show us where and when the President made such an argument in order to extend his term of office, rather than some of his supporters asking for such extension?

    Another assumption is about the proposed changes in the revised constitution and the question citizens will be asked to vote on, which he said may read as follows: ” Would you like to see the Presidential term of office changed from two to three terms?”

    My final question to the writer is, how he learnt that over 30% of APC Parliamentarians are “either against or not quite convinced about the need for more time for the President”?

  5. Mr Mamoud,

    With all due respect your question is ridiculous and I am not sure merits a response. What do you mean by hate? It is such an emotive and divisive word. Where is rationality? We really should not confuse rational people standing up to uphold and defend our sacred Constitution with any level of dislike for any individual.

    Ernest Koroma came to power on the basis of peaceful democratically conducted elections. He has done his bit or I rather should say he would have done his bit whenever it is that elections are due. Two terms – so be it!

    His service to our nation is very much appreciated and many thanks to him. But “good do”. Let somebody else give it a go, as dictated by our Constitution.

    Let him respect his Oath of Office and uphold that same Constitution that brought him into power. The new person could be from APC, SLPP or whichever party or group that clinches that simple majority on the day, assuming that is what the constitution specifies.

    I have no problem with that, and that is not rocket surgery, (the contradiction is intended for obvious reasons)!

    Let us stop this sycophantic adulation of failed leaders in Africa. So what happens after “more time”? Another “extra more time” and so on? Ridiculous! Not even bear thinking about!

  6. I dont think many people hate the president. Most people dislike him or unsatisfied with him because of all his lies and promises that he has broken.

    The man is the biggest hypocrite in salone. He runs the country like a family business benefiting his kith and kin, and protecting his thieving cabal.

    If your surname is Conteh, Bangura or koroma you are blessed. I see that your surname is Conteh. Are you related to the crooked Conteh brothers, one of whom was the former trade minister and chief of staff at state house? And the other was the head of the 50th independence celebrations committee that cannot account for stolen public funds?

    You people dont know when to stop do you? Stealing state funds is a crime.

    • No one has any hate for the president my dear. It’s the president that hates the country. Look, he is not a True patriot as he claims to be.

      This guy fully understands that the office of the president is not forever. He is gradually becoming like Lauren Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast. He will be treated like a criminal, if he dares to attempt laying his dictatorial hands on the constitution again. We want democracy, and democracy must prevail.

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