MORE TIME, THIRD TERM STILL ON AGENDA?May 26, 2017
It was with a broken heart, after strenuously registering the previous day to vote in the March 7, 2018 General Elections, that this Writer read in WE YONE newspaper published Friday March 31, 2017, in its front page lead story under the headline PARLIAMENT “MIGHT” CHANGE ELECTIONS DATE”, the following:-
“The main well at the House of Parliament at Tower Hill in Freetown was the scene for the historic parliamentary maneuver as two Members of Parliament, Honourable Konuwa from Kenema District and Honourable Sualiho M. Koroma of Constituency 67 in Bo District moved and seconded the motion to extend the current Parliamentary and Presidential terms;
“This motion effectively means that Parliament which is sovereign is now seized of the matter of Presidential and Parliamentary term limits. And by extension have now prorogued the Presidential Proclamation on election date for March, 2018.
“While many observations are aroused by the prospect of an extension to this present Parliamentary time and for that matter an extension of the Presidential tenure, it is significant to note that Parliament is acting on its mandate and the action is unholy in accordance with the 1991 Constitution.”
Prior to the WE YONE publication, on Thursday March 30, 2017, news had gone viral in Town that Parliament had voted on a motion moved by a Member of Parliament from the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) to postpone the March 7, 2018 date for the General Elections to September, 2017, extending the lifespan of Parliament and the Presidency by six months.
The concern of this Writer was “aroused” by the mentioning of the prospect of the extension of the 1991 Constitutional five-year term of office of Parliament and the Presidency” which is a matter of public interest at this material time. Fast foward, the Department of Public Relations, Parliament of Sierra Leone, in its Press Release on the Parliamentary Proceedings for Thursday March 30, 2017, made no mention of Parliament debating a motion to extend the elections date. The debate in Parliament on Thursday, March 30, 2017, according to the official Press Release issued from Parliament, related to a Private Members motion moved and seconded by Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma and Hon. Dixon Rogers respectively on the Constitutional and Statutory Instruments tabled in Parliament on Thursday 16th March, 2017 by the Deputy Minister of Justice John Arrow Bockarie.
During the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) TV PRESS REVIEW programme presented by Reginald Strasser King, the following morning, Friday March 31, 2017, one of the Participants Bailor Jalloh, who said he was in Parliament throughout the proceedings the previous day, confirmed that “the issue of extending the current Parliamentary and Presidential term of office was never debated.”
Veteran Journalist Christo Johnson, who also participated in the SLBC TV programme last Friday, from his body language, demonstrated a keen interest in the said news item as reported by WE YONE newspaper and read out by the Presenter, drew the attention of the Presenter, who by his own body language, appeared not to be keen on the issue being discussed, even though Christo Johnson repeatedly drew his attention. Maybe the Presenter considered it too sensitive for discussion.
Friday March 31, 2017 FM 98.1 GOOD MORNING SALONE programme, which was very informative, was mainly about the proceedings in Parliament the previous day and interestingly Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma featured in the programme and made no mention about “the motion to extend the current Parliamentary and Presidential terms”. The Executive Director of Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) Valnora Edwin also participated in the programme, representing “the Standing Together for Democracy Consortium.”Now, is the Government contemplating extending the 1991 Constitutional five-year term limit of the Presidency and Parliament?
Even the WE YONE Newspaper, which is the official news organ of the Ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) political party, in the news item referred to above, stated as follows: “while many observations are aroused by the prospect of an extension to this present Parliamentary time and for that matter an extension of the Presidential tenure, it is significant to note that Parliament is acting on its mandate and the action is unholy in accordance with the 1991 Constitution.” Repeat for emphasis “the action is unholy in accordance with the 1991 Constitution.”The two Members of Parliament Hon. Konuwa from Kenema District and Hon. Sualiho M. Koroma of Constituency 67 of Bo District, who are reported in the WE YONE newspaper to have “moved and seconded the motion to extend the current parliamentary and Presidential terms”, owe the general public an explanation, especially when UNITY newspaper, the news organ of the main opposition SLPP represented in Parliament, in its publication of Thursday March 30, 2017 under the banner headline APC SEEKS MORE TIME AGAIN, under the strap “As Majority Leader Ibrahim Bundu Removed”, alleged as follows:
“According to impeccable sources, they have greased the palms of some greedy, selfish and unscrupulous opposition Members of Parliament and made other lucrative offers to them in return for tabling a Bill in the well of Parliament requesting the noble House to extend the term of office of the President under the guise of providing ample time for the completion of the Chiefdom de-amalgamation and creation of new districts before conducting general and Presidential elections. In a desperate bid to ensure the passing of the said diabolical Bill in Parliament the APC yesterday removed its own elected Majority Leader Hon, Ibrahim Rasin Bundu. They claimed he was axed to avoid conflict of interest as he is currently vying for the Flag bearer of the APC in the 2018 elections.”
UNITY newspaper added, “Top APC operatives, who declined to be named, however, intimated this medium yesterday that Hon. Bundu was viewed as a stumbling block to actualize the more time agenda of President Ernest Koroma and his henchmen” Although Hon. Sualiho gave the impression during the FM 98.1 GOOD MORNING SALONE programme aired last Friday, that to the best of his knowledge nothing is being contemplated to change the current electoral calendar leading up to the General Elections scheduled for March 7, 2018, he needs to clear the air on this very sensitive issue of public interest which has been attributed to him and the Hon. Konuwa in print.
CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY OOR