July 5, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi
A group of Civil Society activists representing the West Africa Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) have engaged the Clack of Parliament to ascertain rumours of a proposed Private Member Bill that aims to impose new eligibility criteria for the position of president, ahead of the 2018 presidential election.
WACSOF Sierra Leone president, Andrew Lavalie, who also doubles as Executive Director of Institute of Governance Reform and Executive Director of Centre of Accountability and Rule of Law, Ibrahim Tommy, were among civil society leaders who met with the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Ibrahim Sesay, yesterday.
The group enquired from the Clerk whether the House had received any bill regarding the position of president, adding that the people of Sierra Leone deserve to be adequately informed about issues relating to the presidency, following rumours regarding the proposed controversial amendment.
An opposition lawmaker, Hon. Dickson Rogers, last week broke the story on radio that there was a clandestine plan to table a Private Member Bill which stipulates, among other provisions, that only former Members of Parliament and Councilors would be qualified to contest for President of Sierra Leone.
Lavalie said that as civil society, they were very much concerned about the rumour of eligibility criteria for the presidency of Sierra Leone, thus their reason to meet appropriate authorities in Parliament to provide clarity on the controversial issue.
“We went directly to the Clerk because a lot of Sierra Leoneans have raised concerns that such legislation has the tendency of creating conflict. We have also come to see how the civil society can strengthen a partnership with parliamentarians on their oversight functions in the interest of Sierra Leoneans,” he said.
He added though that the Clerk of Parliament was very clear that there was no such bill at the moment, and that the public would be duly informed about if any such bill was tabled in the House.
Also, Ibrahim Tommy thanked the Clerk for the clarification, as according to him, the matter is a governance issue that deals with the rule of law, transparency and accountability. He encouraged other civil society activists to be more tolerant and work with WACSOF for the development of Sierra Leone.