Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 March 2019:
Sierra Leone’s main opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) continues to embarrass itself with successive parliamentary gaffs, giving the ruling SLPP the much needed political space to get on with the business of governing a country that has been broken by ten years of poor governance and corruption.
Yesterday, 26th March 2019, all 68 members of the APC party walked out of parliament as crucial debate and voting were about to be taken on the approval of several High Court Judges and other nominated public officials, including the appointment of the Electoral Commissioner for the Southern Region.
The opposition APC MPs are protesting what they refer to as electoral malpractice at the recent bye-election in Kambia district, for which they are calling for the sacking of the country’s chief electoral commissioner Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh.
But yesterday’s walk out has been described as bizarre by several senior APC stalwarts, who are accusing the party’s leadership in parliament – Chernor Bah and Ibrahim B Kargbo, of gross ineptitude and betrayal, as the following presidential nominees were approved by Parliament:
Justice Leonard Michael Taylor – High Court Judge, Justice Augustine K. Musa – High Court Judge, Justice Samuel O. Moses Taylor-High Court Judge, Justice Clarissa Cosmotina Jarrett – High Court Judge, Justice Michael Patrick H. Mami – High Court Judge, Justice Aiah Simeon Allieu – High Court Judge, Justice Albert Juma Moody – High Court Judge.
Other senior public officials approved yesterday were: Sahr T. Fatorma – Member, Board of Directors, SLRA; Edmond Sylvester Alpha-Electoral Commissioner, Southern Region; Maada Senesie Kpenge – Managing Director, Guma Valley Water Company; Sahr Julius N. M’bayo – Member, Board of Directors, NPPA; Neneh Dabo-Member, Board of Directors, NPPA; Haja Amie Daboh – Member, Board of Directors, SLRA; and Ebunouwa Finda Tengbeh – Member, Board of Directors, EPA.
Seconding the motion for their approval, Emilia L. Tongi, an Independent MP from Kailahun District described the nominees “as fine and exceptional”, adding that the “right direction is the correct direction”. She also congratulated Sahr Fatorma and described him as one of the “luckiest” persons in the country. She called for justice to be taken to her constituency where a lot of women are suffering from injustice and other forms of domestic violence.
Speaking on behalf of the opposition APC before his party’s walk-out, Lahai Marah MP, congratulated all the presidential nominees, with the exception of the Electoral Commissioner for the Southern Region.
This is what Lahai Marah said:
Speaking on behalf of the NGC, Dr. Alhaji Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella MP (Photo), said that “the NGC does not have problem with any of the nominees”, whilst registering concerns that have been expressed by his Party with regards to recent bye-election in Tonkor Limba, as he calls for a judicial review of the whole process.
But, refusing to lead his NGC party into a walk out from parliament – following the footsteps of the APC, Yumkella said that “the NGC will not demonstrate any conduct that will disrupt the proceedings of Parliament”.
Concluding the debate, the Leader of Government Business – Sidie M. Tunis MP, said: “I will continue to negotiate and consult with the opposition parties, especially the APC, but outside forces are influencing and constraining the work of elected MPs during the course of executing their duties”.
Assuring the people of Sierra Leone, he said “they will get justice” especially with the recent approval of several Supreme, Appeals, and now High Court Judges.
Reacting to the APC MPs walk-out yesterday, Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (Photo), said: “Walking out when you are completely out-numbered was a great symbolic strategy back then – between 2002 and 2007 for the minority APC in Parliament, but to see in this 2019, the 68-Man APC majority walk out , leaving the 48-Man SLPP minority in charge is disgusting.”