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SLPP suspends participation in Constitutional Review process

Concerned … SLPP National Chairman and Leader, Chief Somano Kapen

Concerned … SLPP National Chairman and Leader, Chief Somano Kapen

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party has resolved that the party suspends its participation in the National Constitutional Review process until further notice.

The resolution by the SLPP NEC comes in the wake of the passing into law of the bill titled “The Constitution of Sierra Leone (Amendments) Acts 2013” by parliament two weeks ago, and the rulings of the High Court on Monday 25 November on the election petition matter involving the party’s parliamentary candidates in constituencies 05 in Kailahun and 15 in Kenema.

In a statement issued yesterday, the party’s Secretary General, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, stated that the NEC – during their meeting on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November 2013 – frown, with dismay, at the “Act which seeks to alter a fundamental qualification for those aspiring to be Speaker of Parliament”.

He said the proposed bill now suggests that everyone from among MPs who have served for five years or more and had attained the age of forty (40) is qualified to become a Speaker as against the previous qualification which requires the individual to have a legal background coupled with the experience of a judge of the Supreme Court of judicature.

The main opposition noted that the said amendments, coming at a time when an 80-man Constitutional Review Committee has been constituted and has commenced sittings on reviewing the nation’s extant Constitution, “undermines the authority and purpose of that forum in its infancy and fails to depict a commitment to the ongoing national consultative process”.

The SLPP NEC also resolved that the party’s members in parliament suspend participation in certain strategic parliamentary activities commencing with the next State Opening of Parliament, and also authorized the national officers [of the party] to review the boycott of parliament by their MPs from time to time as well as communicating its position on the matter to the international community and the public in writing.

“In its determination to protect democracy and until the President expressly refuses to give the presidential assent to the proposed Act and until the Appeal Court speedily hears our appeal that has been filed taking into consideration the threat to the tenets of democracy, the NEC resolves that the SLPP suspends its participation in the National Constitutional Review process until further notice,” a statement from the party issued yesterday said.