APC MPs sworn in, what next?
All 68 Members of Parliament representing the main opposition APC have finally been sworn into office. This happened on the 4th of May 2018, following a bitter and acrimonious circumstance in the well of parliament between them (APC MPs) and the Clerk of Parliament Hon. Paran Tarawalie. The said acrimony led to the forceful eviction from the parliamentary well of all 68 of them, resulting in their not participating in the first sitting, in which the Speaker of Parliament was elected. As a result they did not subscribe to their oath of office, not to talk of them voting in the election of Speaker of Parliament.
Having the single block majority vote in the house, the hope of the APC MPs of having the Speaker was dashed, following events that preceded the Speakership election. Eventually, the ruling SLPP carried the day and elected a Speaker who went unopposed, owing to the non-participation of the main opposition APC in the election.
The event which led to the brawl in parliament, which saw the APC MPs being kicked out of the well of parliament April 25th, started with a couple of petitions against the winning of over twenty APC MPs. This led to the slamming of high court injunctions on fifteen of APC MPs, restraining the injucted MPs from subscribing to their oath of office.
The rest of APC MPs were subsequently incensed by the court action, viewing it as a ploy by the SLPP to jeopardize their chances of winning the Speakership election. “It is a political gimmick by the ruling SLPP to undemocratically elect a Speaker of their choice, much to our disadvantage” said Hon. Sirajin Rollings Kamara, one of the APC injucted MPs in Freetown.
Basically, majority of political observers saw what happened in parliament as ironic, owing to the fact that the APC was at an advantageous position to control the House of Parliament because of their single block majority in the house with 68 seats, SLPP 49 seats, C4C 8 seats and NGC 4 seats plus 14 Paramount Chief Members of Parliament.
For the sake of argument, one would be tempted to agree with Hon. Sirajin that a political plot was masterminded by the ruling SLPP and was well executed to seeing the main opposition booted out the Speakership election all of a sudden.
The above presumption was inadvertently given credence to by Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh of the SLPP, who on a radio engagement said, “Politics is like football when you go the extra mile only to outsmart your opponent”. If the foregoing assertion of Hon. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh who represents constituency 132 in Freetown is anything to go by, then one is right to note that the SLPP did what they did to the 15 APC MPs and by extension all 68 of them only to impose a Speaker of the House of Parliament. One would even assert that had the SLPP not done what they did by injuncting 15 APC MPs and evicted to remaining protesting ones, they (SLPP) would not have won the election of Speaker of the House.
No doubt when we saw the APC MPs boycotting parliamentary proceedings for three consecutive sittings, sending shock waves that the political situation in the country’s House of Parliament was in a chaotic mood. And the move was a directive from the APC hierarchy as a show of protest for what happened in the well of parliament previously. Fortunately, the said action by the APC was cut short, following robust negotiations among the parties involved.
Now APC MPs are back in the well of parliament, having got all 15 injunctions vacated, thanks to an ECOWAS delegation which played the magic. It was indeed a magic, because the APC hierarchy had earlier on sworn that their MPs were not going to partake in parliamentary activities until the right thing be done. The question is, was the right thing done? What was it?
To see all 68 of the APC MPs return to parliament and take their oath of office has left many in the wonder-land as to what has suddenly changed in this whole brouhaha that made them to swallow their pride and go to parliament. One may want to say that the injunctions have been vacated but would that be equivalent to the Speakership election which the APC did not partake in. What if the petition charges against the APC MPs don’t bear credence, would there be any compensation for the waste of time?
Reluctantly, the APC MPs are back in parliament like any of the parties with meager amount of seats. They have ended up not having the control over the legislative arm of government as they earlier thought, based on the voice of Sierra Leoneans in the March 7th elections.
In fact, when the APC MPs were boycotting parliamentary proceedings, the business of the House of Parliament was still proceeding as though nothing was wrong. This was clear when on the 3rd May, 2018 the leadership of Parliament announced six important sessional committees in fulfillment of section 93, sub section 1-2 of the Sierra Leone Constitution of 1991, despite the presence of the main opposition which constitute almost a half of the whole house. On the same day, the Committee on Appointment started vetting presidential nominees of different ministerial positions without the participation of APC MPs although four seats were reserved for them in that committee.
This eventually led to the apparently non participation of APC MPs on the appointment debate which they witnessed on their arrival for the first time in the well as MPs, on the 4th May 2018. “…without any attempt on our part to demean the importance of this debate, can I say we will prepare ourselves for another debate”, said the acting Leader of the main opposition APC Hon. I B Kargbo, when asked by the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu to say something in the debate. The same thing repeated itself on Tuesday May 8th, as MPs continued with their silence in the well of parliament, as they did not contribute to the appointment debate for the approval of 15 new government ministers. Whether SSor not the abstaining from the appointment debate by the APC MPs was as a result of vexation, is a talk for another day.
Meanwhile, looking at all what has happened in the House of Parliament, one would confirm that the issue of APC is a done deal by the SLPP. The question on the trembling lips of many political thinkers is what is next for the APC MPs in the Sierra Leone Parliament? But all this is an issue of ‘wait and see’, as dramatic episodes continue to unfold in the country’s law making house.
By Abdulai Gbla
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