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Constitutional Review Process hampered by lack of funds

By Mohamed Massaquoi

The Constitutional Review Process (CRP) is reported to be hampered by financial a shortfall due to lack of allocation by particularly the government.

The CRP is spearheaded by an 80-man Committee which is headed by Ombudsman, Justice Edmond Cowan, and has a mandate to review the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.

In a bid to ensure the process is participatory, Committee members, grouped in eight thematic groups, were slated to have commenced nationwide engagement on the review process since 1 April, but lack of funds from the government and donor institutions has momentarily put paid to the move.

Public Relations Officer of the Committee, Mohamed Faray Kargbo, said in an exclusive interview with this medium that the Committee has received some logistical and technical support from UN agencies in the country, but that government was yet to meet all of its financial obligations.

“I am sure very soon we will start the process because the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has given executive orders to the Ministry of Finance for the disbursement of the required amount for the process to commence. The UN country team supported us with some logistics, we have got some vehicles and other items to help us carryout our job but government is yet to play it own part,” he said.

Some Committee members have reportedly met with the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keifala Marrah, to urge them to speedily provide the funds to enable the process of consultation to commence.

While launching the CRC last year at the Miatta Conference Center in Freetown, President Koroma called on all Sierra Leoneans irrespective of region, district, ethnic, political or religious affiliation to support, fully participate and take ownership of the entire review process, adding that democratic constitutions are covenantal, genuine pacts amongst citizens to constitute themselves into a polity that they would love and honour.

The Committee needs an estimated $4.1million to carry out its mandate, with the government expected to provide $1.5 million of that amount. So far, government is reported to have disbursed a paltry Le.280 million (approx. $50,000), while the total pledge it has made to the process is $500,000, leaving a deficit of $1 million.

Meanwhile, the 2014 budget allocated just Le.500, 000 to the process. The rest of the expenditure is expected to be provided by international donors and development partners.