November 13, 2020
By Alfred Koroma (Intern)
In its effort to build a sustainable peace and national cohesion, the government through the Office of the Chief Minister, Prof. David Francis, has yesterday introduced a bill to Parliament for the establishment of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, 2020.
However, some Members of Parliament complained that they received the bill late and that they could not peruse it as they should have been given two days prior to the adjourned date of discussion, but only received it few hours before the sitting could commence therefore they were not prepared to debate the bill.
But the Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu, insisted that Members who were prepared start the debate whilst the others wait for the next adjourned date.
While outlining the objectives of the bill, Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, told members that Sierra Leone now has a permanent address for peace and emphasized to members that, without peace; there will be no development.
He reminded members of the commitment made by President Bio to peace building during the state opening of Parliament.
The said commitment, he said, made the case for the establishment of a Peace Commission which was followed by the Bintumani 3 National Dialogue that established the roadmap for the establishment of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion.
The minister further said that the strategic objective of the bill is to establish the foundation for inclusive peace in the new Sierra Leone that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report recommended.
‘The bill and the peace Commission will lay the long term and resilient foundation for non-violent conflict resolution and will serve as an agency to help prevent violent conflict in Sierra Leone,” he said.
Professor Francis further stated that the bill and the peace commission provides the opportunity for the country to build its own capacity for insider mediation that will prevent reliance on external factors that always help the nation to prevent , manage, and resolve it conflict.
“This is about building our own capacity as a nation, as a people, as a society for the difficult and complex task of conflict prevention. I call on you all not to give by-partisan support to the bill,” he said.
Hon. Dickson Rogers, said the bill is not controversial hence MPs should not look at it with political lens, as it will help build stronger; the peace the country has been yearning for.
He said based on investigation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) following the 11 years rebel war, it was confirmed that disunity was among the causes of the war.
He urged that after the enactment of the bill, NGOs and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) support the course of the Commission in order to help resolve conflict.
On his part,Hon. Shiaka Sama said that there was a lot of hypocrisy in the country and that people are not honest about being patriotic.
“We have seen and heard politicians preaching sentiment about nationalism; we must love one another and then preach peace. We have seen how lot of lives were lost during the civil war wherein we saw TRC nailed some institutions and we know what happened next. I hope this Commission will help in denouncing tribalism and discriminations,” he said.
Hon. Segepoh S. Thomas, suggested that after the enactment of the bill, Parliament should make way to summon all NGOs, INGOs and the media and tell them about the importance of the bill and for them to be moral guarantors of sustainable peace and development in the country.