July 1, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
With support from Christian Aid Sierra Leone and Ibis Sierra Leone, Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) yesterday held a one-day roundtable conference with civil society organizations (CSOs) across the country to assess and calibrate the constitutional review process in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak.
In her welcome statement and purpose of the roundtable, Executive Director of CGG, Valnora Edwin, stated that the organisation’s goal is to ensure citizens participation especially in national processes, thus they engage in various ways to ensure that both CSOs and ordinary citizens will have the opportunity to make an input into the process.
Ms. Edwin said the constitutional review process represents a whole map and that it will help Sierra Leoneans to determine where they want to go as a nation, thus the need to ensure that their values and culture and those good things that can bind them together as a nation are included in the new constitution, as not many of them will witness another review process.
She called on CSOs to participate amicably, noting: “Even if you are not a committee member you can send in submissions as well, as ordinary citizens, participation and inclusion of every citizen is very important.” She added that citizens can participate through radio and television programmes, among others.
She encouraged CSOs to come together to interact and dialogue on the review process, stating that the planned referendum on the constitutional review process is not political. She further urged them to organise meetings when they return to their respective districts as they should be able to explain the extension of the review process.
According to Governance Officer at Christian Aid Sierra Leone, Abdulai W. Jalloh, the constitutional review process is intended to open the space for dialogue amongst key actors in the review process.
He said deliberations will hinge on findings in relation to the impact of the Ebola outbreak in the review process, noting that Christian Aid hopes that the assessment, as spearheaded by a researcher, will engage thematic heads, key CRC members and other relevant state actors such as the Ministry of Justice, CSOs and citizens’ groups.
Jalloh expressed hope that the exercise will check accuracy on the basis of measuring the initial successes and achievements of the review process, and how they can re-position themselves going forward.
Also, Programme Coordinator at Ibis Sierra Leone, Nuru Deen, said the constitution ought to be owned by the people of Sierra Leone and that citizens should participate in the process.
“We are very grateful to work with CGG and the people of Sierra Leone. The constitution is meant to protect the right of people,” he maintained.