May 3, 2019
It was a dramatic scene yesterday at the State Opening of the Second Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone, as the All People Congress lawmakers staged a walked out while President Maada Bio was about to take his seat and address the nation.
Dressed in black suit with red hat and neck tie, the striking lawmakers noted among other things that the democratic principles were being suppressed and that there were gross human rights violations, noting that 16 of their colleagues have been petitioned and the matter was yet to be decided by the court.
The APC lawmakers, who walked out of the Well while the national anthem was being sang moved through the streets of Freetown to their party Headquarters, carrying placards that read ‘Respect the peoples’ will in an election, ‘Gross human rights violation’ N’fa Alie must go’ among host of others.
“This is the time to show our people that we are not happy. The democracy of this country is in crisis. There are lots of human rights violations everywhere. As I speak, 16 of our colleagues have been petitioned and the Judiciary is yet to decide on those cases,” said Mohamed Bangura of Constituency 066.
The opposition whip, Hon. Hassan Sesay, said their actions were deliberate and that they wanted it to serve as a deterrent to the excesses of the governing Sierra Leone Peoples Party.
He said the walk-out was a signal that the country was divided and that President Bio has the mandate to consolidate the peace of the nation, as a divided nation cannot easily develop.
However, after the 2018 general elections, there were petitioned and counter petitioned among the main political parties, but the court is yet to decide on those cases.
In December last year, APC MPs refused taking parliamentary oaths and thus, they were barred from voting in the Speaker’s election. The reason they proffered was also connected to the petition filed against some of their colleagues.
In recent times, the APC and the National Ground Coalition issued out a press statement in which they vowed to boycott all subsequent by-elections until the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Nfa Alie is removed, claiming that the Tonko Limba by-election was punctuated by malpractices.
At an emergency press conference held yesterday at their party’s head office, the APC Scribe, Osman Foday Yansanneh, threatened that their supporters would go berserk if the court rules against their parliamentarians.
He alleged that his party was the first to have petitioned 32 MPs from the SLPP, but that the Judiciary decided to kick out their own petition and looked into those that were brought against them.
“But if the Judiciary decides to rule against our 16 MPs, we will not able to control our supporters. They will go berserk,” Yansaneh threatened.
Meanwhile, Imran Sillah from the Strategic Communication Unit of the Ministry of Information and Communications said, he cannot fathomed the reasons the APC lawmakers decided to boycott such an important state function.
He said the lawmakers could not substantiate the human rights abuse they claimed as the country has been very peaceful since the general elections results were announced in April 2018.
“They should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever the SLPP might have done to you didn’t deserve such disrespect for the country and the first gentleman of the republic. Human right abuse, I don’t see it at all. This country has been very peaceful since after the election results were announced. This is a bad politics practice by the APC,” he said.