A Wrong Signal From Parliament!
For the second time under the leadership of the current House of Parliament, Members of the Honourable House have conducted themselves in a manner that defeat the purpose of provisions in the Constitution of Sierra Leone and Standing Orders which require Members of Parliament to conduct themselves in an honourable way both within and outside the House.
On both occasions, the behaviour of Members warranted the intervention of armed personnel to evade the well of Parliament and used force to calm the rather chaotic situations.
The first case in point emanated from the twin issues of eleven petitioned members of the opposition and the election of the Speaker. Gunmen physically dragged Members from the House who resisted being thrown out.
Monday, 19th April 2021, the Bintumani International Conference Center at Aberdeen was turned to a rowdy battle ground, where Members of Parliament removed their suits and ties to exchange blows and pushed and shoved each other. The escalating tensions created room for the heavy presence of armed police officers to restore calm and tranquillity in the House.
The sticky issue this time around has to do with parliamentary procedures in respect of a mid-term census that Statistics Sierra Leone intends to conduct ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections. The activity had already come under strong criticism by opposition parties and Civil Society, such that the date has been postponed twice. Subsequently, HE the President exercised constitutional powers to summon an emergency sitting of Parliament to allow the census papers to be laid before the House; something that the opposition had earlier pointed out as a missing link in the build up to the census.
But even when this was now being complied with as evident by the President’s emergency summoning of Parliament, the Leadership of the opposition continued to cry foul on the grounds that a certain Standing Order had been breached and therefore the sitting should not take place. This position was vehemently overruled by the Speaker, citing the national constitution as having precedence over procedural rules.
Hell broke loose with honourable members attacking each other and throwing fists. Police came in as usual to maintain decorum.
These developments certainly have the effect of giving a bad public image to our honourable representatives not just in the eyes of the public, but also to the international community. But most importantly, the signal sends the message of latent animosity and political bitterness that threatened the peaceful conduct of the electoral process come 2023.
We call on our respected Members of Parliament to conduct themselves in accordance with their title and refrain from degenerating to hooliganism, which sends the wrong signal.
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