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Cross section of participants at one of the consultations

CRC engages over 1,500 people in Western Area consultations

                        

June 18, 2015 

The first set of consultative meetings held by the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) in various wards and constituencies in the Western Area has ended with numerous recommendations on critical issues ranging from the executive, legislature, judiciary, local government, education and communications, to state policy and human rights, and natural resources and the environment.

The meetings, which attracted over 1,500 residents, took place on the 15th and 16th June at Hastings, Grassfield Kissy, Bishop Johnson School at Fourah Bay Road, Ebenezer Hall on Circular Road and Josben Complex, Brookfields. Participants included women, youths, students, the physically challenged, community based organizations (CBOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), religious bodies, councillors, parliamentarians, right-based organizations and concerned citizens.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, CRC Chairman, Justice Edmond Cowan, implored stakeholders to grasp the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity accorded them to participate in the development of a national statute of such magnitude.

Speaker after speaker expressed appreciation about the work of the CRC, which they described as laudable owing to the fact that they have achieved so much in a very challenging environment.

Justice Cowan said the people have the singular opportunity to add their voice to the review process unlike the development of the 1991 Constitution, which was done by few elites.

Consultations at wards 376, 377 and 378 were held at Ebenezer Hall, Circular Road in which participants were drawn from Mount Aureol, Ginger Hall, Mountain Cut, and the Kamanda Farm community.

Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Abubakarr Kargbo, encouraged participants to contribute meaningfully to the process, stressing that the CRC was not working for any political party but the government of Sierra Leone.

He made a number of recommendations including the removal of Paramount Chiefs from the legislative arm to form a House of Chiefs, and the power of recall for members of parliament, among other issues.

At wards 326, 327, 328 and 329, whose consultations were held at Hastings, the meeting attracted over 200 participants from Gloucester, Leicester, IMATT, Hastings, Regent and thereabout. In their presentation, CRC member of the Executive Sub-committee, Chief Somano Kapen, highlighted issues relating to the executive arm of government whilst encouraging participants to proffer recommendations that would improve the executive.

Participants at wards 356, 357, 358 and 359 at Grassfield, Kissy recommended the separation of the office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice; the prosecution of people who confess witchcraft; the president should pay tax. They also asked the CRC to maintain the two-term of office for the presidency; councillors should be paid salaries and pension must be provided for them.

The meeting held at wards 386, 387, 388 and 389, Josben Complex, Brookfields attracted stakeholders from New England, Dworzark, Brookfields, Hill Station and Tengbeh Town.

The meeting at wards 366, 367, 368 and 369 held at Bishop Johnson School, Fourah Bay Road was dominated by community-based organizations at Cline Town, Ross Road, Blackhall Road, PWD and Fourah Bay community. Stakeholders requested the CRC to reduce the powers of the president due to the fact that enormous power is vested in the presidency by the extant constitution.

The CRC is holding consultations with stakeholders and the public in Freetown to garner their wishes and aspirations for the revised constitution. Participants appealed to the Constitutional Review Committee to produce a constitution that would promote good governance, protect the sovereignty of the people, improve socio-economic, political and social infrastructure, maintain peace and tranquillity and national cohesion at all times.

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