‘Government will not interfere with constitutional review process’ – Justice Edmond Cowan
The Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, Justice Edmond Cowan, has stated that the whole country will be involved in the constitutional review process because, as he put it, “If the people are not properly informed they will not be able to form good ideas and they will come out with irrelevant answers.”
He underscored that the process is neither a political exercise nor a forum for political speeches or campaigns.
He observed that Constitutional Review Committee has many state institutions including political parties, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, religious bodies, and trade unions among others.
He stressed that Government has given them a free hand to operate so that they can achieve the desired objectives.
He disclosed that at the end of the exercise there will be a referendum for the people to either accept or reject the document that will emerge from the review process.
He revealed that the 1991 Constitution which is presently under review was done in London where Government officials from Sierra Leone were called to sign the document.
He emphasized that today the process is taken down to the people before the final document is drawn up. He urged all civil society organization, Members of Parliament, religious, community and organization heads and the media to continue to sensitize the about the ongoing review process.
In his presentation, the Secretary of the Committee, Mr. A. S. Sheku, maintained that Sierra Leone is presently operating on the basis of the 1991 Constitution, titled the Constitution of Sierra Leone and endorsed at a national referendum in August 1991.
He explained that following the re-election of President Ernest Bai Koroma on 17th. November, 2012, he underscored the need for a full scale review of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone to reflect present and evolving trends in the country, and that in April 2013, Cabinet approved the establishment of a broad based committee to review the constitution.
He also explained that a twelve man Planning Committee was the set up to guide the process while the Committee was formally inaugurated on 30th July, 2013 by President Ernest Bai Koroma comprising eighty members.
He further explained that they have had a series of ideas-sharing sessions with various stakeholders in order to position the process to produce a document that will be acceptable to all Sierra Leoneans.
He pointed that their methods of operation will focus on constitutional dialogue and reform as a mechanism for peace consolidation and political transformation and also seek to build local opportunities to mitigate risk and reduce conflict.
He reiterated that their major objective is to review the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone using Peter Tucker Constitutional Review Commission Report submitted to Government in January 2008 as a working document.
He maintained that their guiding principles for implementation are ensuring sensitivity, support peace building and reconciliation and ensuring national ownership of the process and maximizing partnership.
By Abdulai Mento Kamara
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