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EDITORIAL

Honourable Lawmakers’ Dishonourable Act

April 26, 2018

The Well of Parliament was transformed into a battle ground yesterday when opposition lawmakers put up an act that is only befitting of hoodlums and not characteristic of honourable members.

Some 68 elected Members of the opposition All Peoples Party (APC) had to be ejected out of Parliament by armed policemen after they refused to obey a court order or take their seats. 16 of the lawmakers had injunctions slammed against their participation by the High Court after the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party filed petitions challenging the legality of their election. The remainders, in solidarity with their ‘comrades’, refused to take their seat and allow the swearing ceremony to start. The police were left with no option but to use proportionate and reasonable force to jettison the misbehaving members.

The spectacle was an unfortunate one to behold for many who had gone to Parliament to witness the first session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic. It was also regrettable that viewers at home, especially young children, saw the shameful display of lawlessness by some of the newly elected Members of Parliament.

We do not intend to go into the merit of what may have triggered the shameful brawl inside Parliament as the matter is before the courts. But we wish to state without equivocation that our newly elected lawmakers have a moral duty and obligation to be law-abiding even if provoked or inclined to feel that they are at the receiving end of gross injustice.

Unfortunately they have failed their test, as they chose chaos over decorum and uncivility instead of civility. First, on Tuesday, April 24, the swearing ceremony had to be postponed because the outgone Speaker SBB Dumbuya reportedly refused to release the mace, while the newly elected members and their supporters turned the sacred Well of Parliament into a raucous market square.

Second, yesterday, April 25, the APC lawmakers again came to Parliament ready to disrupt the business of the House by any means necessary, including shouting, singing, using unprintable words. All of these because a valid court order instructed the Clerk of Parliament to restrain 16 of them, including one ruling party member, from taking up their seats until the hearing and determination of the petitions.

Since all hell broke out, the police had to use reasonable force to throw them out of the Well before the other lawmakers could elect a new Speaker and his Deputy – Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu and Hon. Segepor Thomas respectively.

Without any gainsaying, we condemn such despicable act by men and women we have elected to occupy high office and who owe us a duty to comport themselves in a manner befitting of honourable Members of Parliament. They have made a ‘false start’ by their dishonourable act, but we hope they will curb their errant ways and restore the tattered dignity of that House.

We also call on the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker to take full control of the House and to embark on restoring its fabled reputation. We hope sanity will prevail and that our honourable members will learn to act within the law by respecting decisions of the courts and doing what is proper and dignified to challenge them in court and not by force.

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