Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2018:
Sierra Leone’s elections are long over. The people have spoken. Julius Maada Bio of the opposition SLPP has been elected president. But he has failed to win control of the country’s parliament – the legislature.
So how will he get his programmes and budgets approved, with the defeated APC having a majority, and technically are in control of the parliament for the next five years?
What is certain is that the complexion of the new parliament will be a mosaic of party colours, dominated by four political parties: The main opposition All Peoples Congress party (APC), the Coalition for Change (C4C) led by Mr Samuel Sam Sumana, the National Grand Coalition (NGC) party lead by Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, and the ruling SLPP.
Watch a debate on AYV TV tomorrow Sunday, 15 April to understand how the numbers and equations will stack up in parliament; how each party may have to use its negotiating skills to their best advantage to achieve its objectives; and more importantly, how president Bio may need to trade horses with the NGC and C4C, if it is to get anything done in the next five years.
Next Thursday, 19th April 2018, the parliament of Sierra Leone will open its doors to old and new members of parliament. But they will need to elect a new Speaker of the House. How is this going to work, given the fact that the role of Speaker of Parliament is the most important source of power for a sitting government?
Theoretically, the Speaker could come from the opposition APC with their largest single majority in parliament. But the rules are much more complex.
According to Sheku Lamin Turay – the Senior Public Relations Officer of the Parliament of Sierra Leone, the current Speaker of Parliament – SBB Dumbuya, is still in post until a new Speaker is elected by MPs in the first sitting of Parliament, in accordance with Section 79 (5) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
For a new Speaker to be elected, a vote of not less than two-thirds of all the duly elected MPs, of which there are 132, alongside a total of 14 Paramount Chiefs, will be required.
Sheku Lamin Turay says that, if any of the nominated candidates fails to secure 97 votes, which is two thirds of 146 MPs, after three successive casting of ballots, it will be settled by a fourth option – a simple majority of 50% plus 1 vote, as stated in Section 79 (2) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
Voting for both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House will be done by secret ballots.
Every MP will take and sign an oath of office which will be administered by the Clerk of the House, before they can participate in the election of the Speaker. The Clerk will preside over the election of the Speaker, and the Speaker will likewise preside over the election of the Deputy Speaker.
So how will SLPP get their programmes and budget through parliament?
The main opposition APC will have 68 seats; the ruling SLPP – 49 seats; the C4C – 8 seats; NGC – 4 seats. There will be 3 independent MPs, and 14 Paramount Chiefs, making a grand total of 146 seats in parliament.
The role of Dr Kandeh Yumkella and Sam Sumana’s C4C will be crucial in helping Bio achieve his economic strategy plans. This is what Dr Yumkella said yesterday:
In 2013 the Constitution of Sierra Leone which required those vying for the Speakership to have been retired Judges who had served in both the High and Supreme Courts of Sierra Leone, was amended by an Act of parliament.
The new constitutional requirement is that those seeking to become Speaker must be an MP of at least 40 years old, and had served as an MP for more than 5 years. This requirement applies to current and past MPs. The Deputy Speaker is also elected from among MPs for a period of five years.
But a huge dilemma for the ruling SLPP is that they do not have the majority that should guarantee the election of an SLPP MP as Speaker. According to Sheku Lamin Turay, the Office of the Speaker of the Parliament of Sierra Leone is an extension to the Presidency of Sierra Leone.
In situations where both the President and his Vice President are for any reason indisposed or unable to perform the functions of their offices, then the Speaker shall take the Presidential Oath of Office to be administered by the Chief Justice, and then act as the President of Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph asks: Can an opposition APC-elected Speaker, act as president of Sierra Leone in the absence of SLPP president Julius Maada Bio? Politics in Sierra Leone is about to get even more interesting.
Watch AYV TV tomorrow Sunday, 15 April to hear this hotly debated issue live.
Also remember that eight parliamentary seats won by the APC will be petitioned on the grounds that candidates such Mohamed Bangura who were receiving their salaries from the consolidated funds never resigned their positions.
Not since before the general elections of 1967 has the nation presented itself, unconsciously probably, with a parliament which will reflect the wishes and aspiration of the people at last. Until the 27th of March 2018, we had many parliamentarians who were just there for the salary and perks which came with the job – they hardly understood anything of the proceedings, let alone what impact they would have on the nation.
Now we have a parliament consisting of fearless, articulate, and well educated individuals who are capable of running rings around the executive branch of government without missing a single step.
President Bio therefore has to summon all his diplomatic, pragmatic and charming skills to get his agenda through Parliament that is made up of an APC majority, whose members are still reeling from a stunning defeat for the presidency and are breathing fire.
We in the NGC are extremely happy that our leader KKY, has unambiguously ruled out any possibility of joining the Bio administration, because as a parliamentarian he can always use parliamentary privilege to expose all the shortcomings of the administration without being obstructive. He is not a sell out and the nation stands to benefit from it. Carry on KKY, we are with you.
Yes, President Bio and his SLPP administration will soon get things through Parliament, after they have settled in in governance. My reason is that those APC MP’s who think serving in Parliament is for self aggrandizement will have a rude awakening.
MP’s are part of the civil service structure. They are subject to accountability and responsibility to the people who elected them. If an MP do not show up for proceedings, first strike, he/she need to be petitioned and removed. Also, some of those old APC MP’s who were involved in squandering state funds in the previous government for selfish and greed must be removed and by-elections done, if found guilty.
This happened in 1971 when most SLPP MP’s were petitioned and APC candidates were forced on the people, to pave the way for a One Party State under Pa Shaki. The SLPP will have to work with the newer parties to petition some of those APC MP’s who would want to play the obstructionist game and by-election implemented.
All these will culminate when the Judiciary is purged by the coming new, no-nonsense Attorney General, Mr. Charles Margai. The Judiciary has to cleanse those “Kiss EBK” Supreme court Judges. We need Judges that will not succumb to political pressure and/or controlled by the Executive Branch. We need decency and competency in interpreting the laws of Mama Sa Leone.
I am sure by now we all agree that “Salone cam fos”. So it should all work out.
The President will have no problems putting across his intentions in Parliament. No MP will reject any motion without proposing a better one. Remember the people are watching and listening. You can only replace a good intention or idea with a better one and replace a better idea with one that is best. But just trying to derail national progress for partisan points may amount to subterfuge.