Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 June 2016
A 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.
Sources 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.
It 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.”
A 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.”