Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 April 2021:
Parlaimentarians in Sierra Leone received a surprised notice from the Clerk of Parliament yesterday, saying that president Julius Maada Bio is convening an “emergency sitting” of all parliamentarians next Monday – 19th April 2021.
There is no indication of what the emergency meeting is about, or whether the president will be attending in person.
But what is clear is that there is widespread alarm across the country over the government’s decision to hold a mid-term national census without first obtaining parliamentary approval.
Some analysts believe that realising the gaff made by the president and his legal advisers – the Attorney General and relevant ministers, president Bio may now be working frantically to cover his tracks to obtain the legal basis for the mid-term national census.
There are suspicions also, the emergency meeting may involve the proposed Cybercrime legislation, which following recent events of police brutality over citizens’ use of mobile phones to record and share government’s failings, the president may want to speed up the legislative process.
The use of social media by citizens in Sierra Leone is picking up speed as people across the country express their dissatisfaction with the government’s performance after three years in office.
Many in government circles believe that controlling the social media space is key to the ruling SLPP party winning the 2023 elections.
Last night’s notice from the Clerk of Parliament reads:
“The Office of the Clerk of Parliament announces for the information of Hon. Members of Parliament, that pursuant to Section 86 (1) of Act No. 6 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, that His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone has convened an Emergency Sitting of Parliament on Monday 19th April 2021 in the Freetown International Conference Center, Bintumani, Aberdeen, Freetown at 10:00 AM prompt.
“Hon. Members of Parliament are informed accordingly and encouraged to attend and on time. Hon. Members, the second relocation of the venue of Parliamentary Sittings in the present Parliament assembled, is due to the ongoing renovation and rehabilitation works that are currently taking place in the precincts of Parliament.
“Hon. Members of Parliament and members of the general public who want to be in attendance are to put on face masks in adherence to the COVID-19 protocols. This announcement supersedes the last adjournment of Parliament.”