Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 October 2018:
The leadership of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) has completed its consultations on the parliamentary debate of the Bill laid before parliament by the SLPP government, calling for the formation of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged corruption by the former APC government. (Photo above: Police trying to restore calm when violence erupted in parliament at the first opening early this year).
The debate will take place today, Monday, October 22nd,2018. According to sources in the NGC party, Hon. Foday Mario Kamara of Constituency 057 representing the NGC in wards Gbileh, Dixon, Bramaia and Khonimarha, is expected to lead the debate in parliament.
The NGC is expected to state categorically that:
- NGC will give their full support to the Commissions of Enquiry as long as due process is always followed, and citizens are treated as innocent until they are proven guilty.
- NGC believes that action against corruption should not only be retrospective. The party expects that those who may indulge in corruption today should be pursued with the same vigour and thoroughness as those who were corrupt yesterday.
- NGC will state emphatically that inquiries must be thorough and fair to allow the innocent to go free and the guilty to face the full penalty of the law.
- NGC will request for all proceedings to be broadcast live on Television and radio. This way the process will help to create public awareness about what accountability really means and allow for the public to draw its own conclusions whether the process was a witch-hunt or fair and transparent.
- Ultimately, the execution of the proposed Commissions of Enquiry will give us an insight into whether the New Direction is a movement for change and progress, or a turbo-charged business as usual machine.
Last Thursday, the public relations department of parliament issued this request to the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation:
Today’s debate in parliament is expected to be fierce and rowdy, as the main opposition APC will use its majority to stop the Commission of Inquiry Bill from becoming law.
Following the debate, there will be a vote by MPS. And if the SLPP minority government wins the vote with its 49 MPs voting alongside the NGC’s 4 MPs, C4C’s 8 MPs, 3 Independents, and possibly a few of the 14 Paramount Chiefs, then the bill will become law and the Commission of Inquiry will be established to investigate the governance of the country under the stewardship of the APC between 2007 and 2018.
But if the SLPP government loses the vote in parliament, the Commission of Inquiry Bill will be dead, and the government may have to find other constitutional means – including the Anti-Corruption Commission – whose hands are now full, to conduct investigations into alleged corruption by the former APC government led by president Ernest Bai Koroma.
Already, the opposition APC are accusing the SLPP government of witch hunt. But with the support of the liberal National Grand Coalition Party (NGC) led by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, and the Coalition for Change (NGC), the government may well succeed in convincing many of the 68 MPs belonging to the main opposition APC, that the Inquiry will be fair, transparent and just.
Several of the opposition APC MPs are calling for the terms of reference of the proposed Commission of Inquiry to be extended to include pre-2007 governments of the SLPP and the military NPRC which was led by president Julius Maada Bio. But it is unlikely the SLPP government will accept this argument.