April 26, 2018 By Jariatu S. Bangura
Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu was yesterday elected as the new Speaker of the Sierra Leone Parliament, while Hon. Segepor Solomon Thomas was elected as the new Deputy Speaker of the House.
The first session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Lone witnessed chaotic scenes in the morning hours as some Members of Parliament representing the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), who were prevented by the High Court to participate in the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, went into rage.
They were later ejected out of the Well of Parliament by the police on the instructions of Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally.
Dr.Bundu was nominated by Hon. Mohamed Sidi Tunis of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the nomination was seconded by independent Hon. Quinton Salia–Konneh.
He secured 71 votes out of 72 votes while his deputy garnered 72 votes.
From 1989 to 1993, Dr. Bundu was the executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States.
Dr. Bundu has a wealth of experience, having headed several ministries, including Foreign Affairs and Agriculture. He holds both a Bachelor and Master of Laws degrees from the Australian National University in Canberra, and a PhD in economics from the University of Cambridge in England.
His deputy, Hon. Segepor Thomas holds double bachelor’s degrees from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. He is also Barrister and Solicitor.
The National Grand Coalition (NGC) and main opposition APC did not participate in the election of the Speaker and his deputy.
Leader of the four NGC lawmakers, Hon. Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Kolley Yumkella, told Journalists that his party refused to participate in the process they wanted to encourage ‘unconstitutional democracy’.
Dr. Yumkella noted that 48% of parliamentarians were removed forcefully out of the Well of Parliament by the Sierra Leone Police, which he said doesn’t bode for the country’s democracy.
He averred that the non-participation of 68 APC lawmakers in the election of the Speaker and his deputy was a political decision, adding that they’re not intimated by numbers but stand for what is right.
“They should not replace APC‘s unconstitutionality with junta democracy using troops in the Well of Parliament,” he charged, adding that the people decided on March 7 and that their decision should be respected.
“We stood against APC for corruption, unconstitutionally and the rule of law, therefore we are here again fighting for the same. I am not an APC sympathiser, nevertheless I should have gone with them out of the Well. When the justice system is used for one’s interest it will not be good for the other but that does not mean the next individual should do the same,” he said.
The NGC leader said: “We all saw it when they were voting for the speakership and also for Deputy Speaker. It is clearly stated in the Standing Orders that all members present should participate but we saw 48% of us have been removed, which mean the process was unconstitutional. I am a free man but I have a responsibility to speak up when it is wrong and I took my oath of office. What if such precedent today is used against another person, what would we say? The Executive cannot give instructions to us as parliamentarians and the judiciary cannot be used to pre-empt the parliamentary process. It is wrong.”
Hon. Dr. Yumklla noted that they were in Parliament to do the right things as people’s representatives and not to follow bad precedence by both parties.
“Today, it is one set of individual, tomorrow it might be another, could such precedence be cited or should one manipulate the constitution? No, others should not do the same when they have the power and they should do what is right. It is true that when you have a petition, the people sit in parliament and wait for the process, but by forbidding them from parliament means that they are wrong, which is not good as they have forbade them from representing their people.
“You all know, I stood against former President Koroma when he removed the then Vice President – Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana – unconstitutionally, so I will do likewise. We stood against APC’s unconstitutionality and we stood hard to put a stop to it and if we encourage unconstitutionality we would have it. If we encourage junta democracy, we would get it also. We are not looking for praises but stood as a constructive opposition. We stood firm to say that what happens in parliament is wrong and unconstitutional as we would not use precedence when they are wrong,” he concluded.