Sierra Leone’s democracy at crossroads as opposition APC walks out of parliament  

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 May 2019:

Sierra Leone’s main opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) members of parliament, today staged a dramatic walk out of the country’s parliament as the president was about to deliver his state opening of parliament address.

Dressed in their red communist combatant style beret, the APC MPs chanting their party’s anthem, left parliament and took to the streets of the capital Freetown, in protest at what they described as the SLPP government’s abuse of power.

Since the general and presidential elections held last March, there have been clashes in parliament between the opposition APC MPs and the ruling SLPP representatives, who are accusing the APC MPs of refusing to accept the results of those elections.

Twelve APC MPs have been petitioned in court for violation of electoral rules – mainly failing to resign their public offices within the constitutionally stipulated period of twelve months.

In effect, they were still receiving state funds after they had declared their intention to contest the elections.

The APC now wants those election petitions to be quashed, and they are calling for the replacement of the Chief Electoral Officer – Mr Mohamed Nfa Ali Conteh, whom they accuse of stealing their votes at the local bye election held in Kambia recently.

They are holding the Chief Electoral Officer also responsible for the defeat suffered by their party at the presidential election, though they won the parliamentary votes by a fairly big majority.

Critics of the APC say that the party is trying hard to derail the country’s hard won peace and make it impossible for the ruling party to govern an already fragile country.

Some supporters of the APC are on social media calling for the military to topple the government, a frightening thought that most Sierra Leoneans will never contemplate.

But such is the desperation of the opposition APC to have their demands met, say critics.

Sierra Leone has had its fair share of political instability, violence and chaos, and few will forget the horrors of the ten-year civil war which took the lives of over 200,000 people, destroying the country’s economy which is still teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

The ruling SLPP is accusing the opposition APC of massive corruption during its ten years in office.

The Koroma led APC government they say had left the country in near bankruptcy, with hundreds of millions of dollars unaccounted for, according to various reports of the country’s Auditor General. (Photo: Former president Ernest Bai Koroma in his communist commando style red beret).

A ommission of inquiry has started to look at many of the evidence of misappropriation of public funds and abuse of office by former ministers in the Koroma APC government. This has heightened political tension.

The inquiry is being criticised by the APC, accusing the SLPP government of witch-hunt.

Hence today’s dramatic walk-out of parliament by the APC MPs at this auspicious occasion, does not come as a surprise.

There is plenty of bad blood running through the veins of the country’s democracy, which if not carefully handled may lead to serious violence on the streets.

Other representatives of the various minority opposition parties, such as the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Coalition for Change (C4C), along with the ruling SLPP and independent MPs watched passively as the APC MPs in their combatant red beret walked out of parliament today, chanting their party’s anthem: “There is victory for us”.

The president – Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio was unperturbed, as he went ahead with his state opening of parliament speech, which this time is full of much promise and hope for a brighter future, as was last year’s.

President Bio is expected to shuffle his cabinet ministers any time soon, so as to breed new energy and focus into the massive economic and political challenges that are now facing his government, after just twelve months in office.

But in the meantime, the opposition APC is fighting hard to bring down the elected SLPP government. Elections are not due until 2023. It is anyone’s guess what is going to happen before then.

One thing is clear though, both the opposition APC and the ruling SLPP will need to work out together their political differences through peaceful dialogue in order to avoid violent confrontation.

Watch the APC MPs protesting here:

 

14 Comments

  1. PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE
    PDL
    1 Zara Lane, Portee, Wellington, Freetown.
    Email contacts: sierraleonepdl@gmail.com; salpedel1986@gmail.com

    “The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people. Unless we do this by our concerted efforts, within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress at the tempo demanded by today’s events and the mood of our people. The symptoms of our troubles will grow, and the troubles themselves become chronic. It will then be too late even for Pan-African Unity to secure for us stability and tranquility in our labours for a continent of social justice and material well-being. Unless we establish African Unity now, we who are sitting here today shall tomorrow be the victims and martyrs of neo-colonialism.”
    Kwame Nkrumah, Addis Ababa, 1963
    Public Statement for Immediate Release 4th May, 2019

    CONGRATULATIONS TO ABDULAI M. BANGURA FOR HIS APPOINTMENT AS CHAIRMAN OF THE POLITICAL PARTIES REGISTRATION COMMISSION (PPRC)

    Out of a deep consciousness as a peaceful, law-abiding, patriotic and forward looking Sierra Leonean, and as Leader and National Chairman of the People’s Democratic League (PDL), I want to send my deepest congratulations to Mr. Abdulai M. Bangura for his appointment as the Chairman of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) in Freetown.

    Mr. Bangura was recently appointed to that position by President Julius Maada Bio, vetted by Parliament and now has been sworn in to begin the much expected noble service to the people of Sierra Leone. Mr. Abdulai M. Bangura succeeded the late Justice Patrick Hamilton, who died few months after the 2018 general elections, whereby the PDL was denied of its rightful position in the country’s democratic process.
    As expressed before, we are confident that Mr. Bangura will indeed repair the damage done by his predecessor to the relevance and credibility of the PPRC, and carry out the duties of his new office without compromising the constitutional human rights and democratic freedoms of Sierra Leaneans, to register and belong to political parties of their choice.

    We believe Mr. Bangura would be guided by Allah Almighty God to execute his duties without fear or favour and will uphold the principles of democracy and fair play, and mete-out justice to the PDL, its members and supporters unconditionally. There is no question about his capability to head the PPRC morally.

    Since December 6, 2017 when the late Justice Hamilton’s PPRC infringed upon our constitutional human rights and democratic freedoms and disenfranchised members and supporters of PDL not to participate in the 2018 elections, called and held in the country, we have been pushing for revamping of the PPRC- a tool used by greedy and divisive politicians to muzzle the real opposition. And the Chairmanship of the late Justice Hamilton in the PPRC was consumed by opulence and immorality of the former ruling All People’s Congress (APC).

    I want to appeal to all members and supporters of PDL across the length and breadth of Sierra Leone and outside the country to stay calm and continuing praying and asking our Creator to protect and guide the new PPRC boss, Abdulai M. Bangura not to repeat the terrible undemocratic blunders committed by his predecessor against the PDL and the free, peaceful and democratic world. We know we have fulfilled all requirements to register our Party and want Sierra Leonean from all sides of the political divide to rally behind the PDL for defending human rights and democracy in the country.

    The appointment of Mr. Bangura to the position of Chairman of PPRC signals the President Julius Maada Bio’s determination to consolidate and promote peace and democracy in Sierra Leone. It is also in recognition of Mr. Bangura not only of his merits, sound and reasoned judgments, but as well as his efforts and vision to bring about the much-needed reform to the PPRC. On top of that, it is also recognition of rightful standing within the country, something that was not possible under the previous administration.

    Now that the PPRC is going through a rebirth with a new and respectable Chairman at the helm of affairs, we want to assure all Sierra Leoneans that the PDL will never abandon the path of peace and legitimacy to obtain its final political party registration certificate from the heinous captivity of the left-behind late Justice Hamilton’s PPRC.

    We respect and we owe it as a duty to uphold and defend the constitution of Sierra Leone, the United Nations Charter and international Protocols and Conventions on the human rights of the people of Sierra Leone to a peaceful political, economic, social, cultural and environmental life.

    Viva PDL!

    Sender:
    Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
    Leader and National Chairman
    People’s Democratic League
    PDL

  2. Truth be told….this government now in power, aptly resembles a flock of vision impaired wild geese with no sense of direction at all. They think they are flying East, when in fact they were heading Westwards. Outright pathetic! An old, broken down, ramshackle vehicle is worthless and of no use to anyone…the same applies to Bio and his inept lackadaisical SLPP crew. One year gone, wasted, flushed away and they still have nothing tangible they have done to show the good people of Sierra Leone! Absolutely nothing! Zero!

    And since they came to power all they have created are problems, dissensions, confusion and discord. The blame game and finger pointing will not cease, neither also will their continual political and tribal trumpet blowing! Under this government things will never improve, but will continue to slide further, towards the lowest margins of economic barrenness.

    Sadly, we are being ruled by vindictive, prideful,and disagreeable men, hell-bent in their desire to tarnish the image of the APC in the eyes of the world These men, I warn you are up to no good and they are nothing but self-promoting, self-conceited, braggarts.

    Observe them keenly and their incompetence can be clearly seen because they totally lack the skills and abilities needed to engage others with contrary opinions and view points in constructive, logical and meaningful dialogue.

    APC walking out of Parliament was the right thing to do. Bravo! The scapegoating, intimidations and witch-hunts must end. If they wish to govern peacefully, it is alright with us, it is fine…but if their intentions are to play dirty games,then we also, will participate in any such games.

  3. PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC LEAGUE
    PDL
    Email: salpedel1986@gmail.com; sierraleonepdl@gmail.com

    3rd May, 2019
    PDL CONDEMNS THE IRRESPONSIBLE ACTION TAKEN BY THE OPPOSITION IN ORGANISING AN UNNECESSARY WALK OUT OF PARLIAMENT
    The People’s Democratic League (PDL) condemns in strongest terms possible the irresponsible action taken by the Sierra Leone opposition All People’s Congress (APC) in organizing an unnecessary walk out of parliament.

    Much as we, in the People’s Democratic League are concerned, Sierra Leone is a democracy founded on supremacy of the Constitution, its Bill of Rights and the rule of law. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees everyone the right to register and belong to political part of choice. A democratic right denied to the PDL by the big party gurus of the former ruling APC.

    While protests are part of a robust and lively democracy such as ours, they must at all times be conducted within the bounds of morality and legality. Through our Constitution, the overwhelming majority of Sierra Leoneans chose to reject the walk out action taken by the APC during the State Opening of Parliament, on 2nd May, 2019.

    The damage wreaked by the walk out action of APC parliamentarians is disturbing at a time when the country needs foreign investors. But the action of APC parliamentarians could scare off foreign investors, and this will not mean well for the country’s baby democracy and economic development initiatives of President Julius Maada Bio.

    While we commend President Bio for his commitment to advance the country’s democracy, we want to warn APC parliamentarians that a walkout of parliament sent the wrong signal, and not the civilized path to vent out political grievances.

    It was better for APC parliamentarians to respect the ceremony marking the State Opening of Parliament 2019, than to indulge in a reckless and provocative manner that can taint the image of Sierra Leone’s national body politics.

    Concluding, the PDL wants to advise the APC to respect the mandate given to President Julius Maada Bio and desist from actions that pose threats to Sierra Leone’s peace and democratic process. We urge President Bio not to allow APC’s political miasma to distract him from the country’s ongoing development process.

    Long live President Julius Maada Bio!
    Long live Sierra Leone!!
    Forward with PDL!!!

    Sender:
    Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
    Leader and National Chairman
    People’s Democratic League
    PDL

    • Thank you very much Alimamy for your contribution. I reckon we should tone down the rhetoric for the moment because of what we have at stake here. You seem to be blaming the APC on each path of your comment. That is not what is needed at the moment. However, I respect your views.

      In terms of walking out, the SLPP has done that in the past if I am not mistaking. So, let us forget about the walking out issue. The problem now is, how to make sure that, such walking outs do not continue in the future. If a durable solution is not found by the parliamentarians, then, it is always going to be a TIT FOR TAT and that would be a disaster for not only the legislative branch of government, but the President and the country as a whole.

      I do not know whether there is legislation in place to counter such problems. But, if not, then parliament must have to do something. Otherwise, it is going to be TIT for TAT which is unacceptable.

      As one of our colleagues Anthony Moiba on this platform said, President Bio is the president of the country and not Former President Ernest Koroma or The Social Media. That APC exit ship has long left with both destination and location unknown. President Bio is the president and therefore, must show leadership now.

      The President and the SLPP government are in the MINORITY in PARLIAMENT. The SLPP and the APC know that. The people of the country know that. A party with the MAJORITY SEATS in parliament must not be discarded or taken lightly. The government must work in a BIPARTISAN manner with the opposition in other to get results.

      The APC is a POLITICAL force to be reckoned with. Whether you like it or not. But at the same time, the APC must open its ARMS to work with the government with open hearts and SINCERITY. Unfortunately, that is what is absent at present. It is a SHAME. I believe the APC and the SLPP will eventually find a solution.

      Since this problem happened, the president has not said anything. He did not mentioned anything about it in parliament during his speech. He must address this issue. Why he has not done so yet, remains to be seen. Such walk outs are really annoying, frustrating and provocative to the party in power, the President and other members of parliament. That is why it must not be condoned.

      There were no video clips to see live what was happening at the time of the walk out in the well unfortunately. A video clip should have given more information to make proper judgement. The video we saw, showed us how the APC MPs were behaving outside parliament. But that was outside the well. Somewhere doing major CUTARIAS like FAIRYs or KAKA DEHBLES. Unbelievable. But can you do? Nothing. It is their choice. Even in advance democracies and countries, politicians sometimes behave like KIDS. I don’t blame them.

      Let us be fact and not fake. The APC and the other political parties have issues with the SLPP in parliament which must be addressed. The issues keep piling up by not addressing them as time goes on. Failing to address these issues, has ended up in such attitudes or mess which are unacceptable. However, that does not warrant the APC to walk out. But we cannot do otherwise.

      Alimamy, you have given very strong warnings to the APC. But what can you propose to help solve the problem? I propose the formation of a NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT to bring everybody on board, so that all the political parties will work together. Do you agree with me or have an alternative idea?

  4. I am sure every true Sierra Leonean is tired of the oppsition party in the country. Everything they do not like they walk out of Parliament. Which country have you ever seen such dirty games? Sience our brother’s election as president of the country, how many times have they walked out of parliament and how long are they going to continue doing this?

    I am sure they only signed and accepted the 1991 constitution because they were controlling the power and as they are in the oppsition, there is no peace in the parliament. There should a stop to such nonsense ideas as “We will walk out of Parliament against any new laws made” even if it is for their own benefit.

    I love Sierra Leone and do hope the APC party leaders work hand in hand with other parties to develop the country.
    MAY GOD BLESS SIERRA LEONE AND HER PEOPLE.

  5. From the APC Party under EBK I don’t expect much. But Bio’s government must show political maturity by going about their business of governing and focusing on the issues that are paramount to the average woman or man.

    APC under EBK will never ever want this government to succeed and Bio’s government has to account for the next four years, not EBK. One important point for the Bio government is communication, communication,communication and again communication wth the electorates.

    Explain to us your plans, how you want to achieve them but please, please not the blame game any more!!! Go on the air to calm down fears and be mature enough to say also when things go bad and especially when your party is responsible. Mr. PRESIDENT YOU ARE THE LEADER NOT EBK OR THE SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!

  6. “Twelve APC MPs have been petitioned in court for violation of electoral rules – mainly failing to resign their public offices within the constitutionally stipulated period of twelve months.

    In effect, they were still receiving state funds after they had declared their intention to contest the elections.

    The APC now wants those election petitions to be quashed” GOD NOR LEK UGLY … My mind goes back to the unfair attacks on the NGC Leader during the elections … Karma they say is a bitch …AND IF THE APC DID IN FACT STEAL THE AMOUNTS WRITTEN IN THE AUDITOR’S REPORT …then witch hunt is appropriate, for they are witches and worse; they said it, so let them own it.

  7. We have got two presidents ruling Sierra Leone for the first time in our lives. Sierra Leone is the first country to have a self created royal highness wife, giving speeches that the president himself should do. Wake up Sierra Leone.

    One year in office this woman has already built a big hotel in her country, the Gambia. We have so much to rebuild being a president’s wife does not make you a vice president. Please refer to the job describtion of a first lady. This woman should get down her high horse.

    We deserve a better Sierra Leone. You do not have to travel all the time with your husband. It is not in the constitution, and is not right. No one has elected you in Sierra Leone. But you will one day pay for all what you are doing now. If you think you will go free you have got another thing coming. Just stop.

    • Thank you very much Seray for your insight. The issue of our First Lady building a HOTEL in the GAMBIA keeps popping up in social media every now and then. Is it time for people to start some undercover investigation? To be honest Seray, I doubt it but could not rule it out yet.

      All our former First Ladies have done a very good job in the past, especially in taking care of children, women and families. The present First Lady is also doing the same. However, let’s wait and see.

      I would not blame her much with regards to making speeches all around the place or travelling everywhere with her husband.
      What would be unacceptable is, the building of a HOTEL in the GAMBIA with GOVERNMENT FUNDS through CORRUPTION, or from TIPS and FAVOUR received from the overseas travels from other countries and individuals because of her First Lady position.

  8. APC please accept that you lost the elections fair and square.

    I know say de gron dry for una and that is why you are behaving like this. Da power en fiti fata tiff en spend money nor de again.

    One more thing those red berets take them off. Stop copying the South Africans. Ee fit dem. But you look foolish and ridiculous and like gangsters. The South Africans beat you to it long time ago.

    • Indeed. The MPs look foolish Patricia. MPs are like that all over the world. Just see what happens in parliaments of the developed countries. You would never have believed it, if you had not seen or witnessed it with your bare eyes.

      However, yesterday is gone and TODAY is a new day. I hope that, the tension yesterday has calmed down and the adrenaline returned to the adrenal glands.
      In the midst of TURMOIL or no TURMOIL, we can still have fun and make jokes.

      The way the APC MPs behaved yesterday, reminds me of how as a child watching KIRI KIRI or KONO TENDA coming down old Yengema road and dancing. Some of these APC MPs were dancing the same way as those beautiful masked devils then. My judgement with yesterday’s performance was that, some of these MPs outperformed those masked devils(fairy) as we use to call them. Very impressive and flamboyant display and CUTARIA indeed.

      I should have loved to see a video of what happened inside the well. But unfortunately, it did not happen. I hope these APC MPs won’t mind me but, LAUGH, ENJOY themselves and get back to work in collaboration with the President and the Government.

      Finally, we should not expect our politicians or MPs to be sober at all times. It happens every where. Finally, APC and SLPP, please get back to work in the interest of the country. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  9. This is a very serious problem that should not be overlooked. In my view, there are two problems. There is some sort of division in the SLPP party itself. Secondly,the incident that occurred during the election of the SPEAKER last year, has brought mistrust between the SLPP and the APC. Let us forget about who won and who lost last year’s ELECTIONS.

    President Bio’s appointment of many DIASPORA people as ministers and other top positions did not go down well with candidates who have spent all their lives in the country struggling with the party. Also, the APC is still very unhappy about the way their MPs were treated last year with the election of the SPEAKER.
    We should not blame anyone for now. The situation must be looked at, at all angles and a solution found. This is an explosive situation which needs immediate attention.

    It is unacceptable to see the President addressing parliament with less than half of the members of parliament. That is not good. So, the best thing to do or the best way forward,is to appeal to all the political parties, especially the SLPP and the APC to find a quick RESOLUTION to their GRIEVANCES. Also, the police must make sure that, they play a neutral role in any operations if need be.

    Finally, I personally appeal and ask President Bio to take the LEAD and show LEADERSHIP. GOVERNMENT business cannot continue like this.
    PEACE MUST PREVAIL IN SIERRA LEONE. AMEN AND AMEN.

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