April 24, 2018 By Alusine Sesay
In a notice issued yesterday, April 23, Sierra Leone’s Speaker of Parliament Hon. SBB Dumbuya intimated newly lawmakers about the postponement of the opening of the fifth Parliament of the Second Republic.
According to the 1991 Constitution, the Speaker of Parliament remains in office until “when Parliament first meets after any dissolution.”
However, Clerk of Parliament Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally also issued a counter statement last night in which he assured the public that the commencement of today’s sitting would go on as planned.
This development comes on the heels of an unprecedented number of petitions granted yesterday by High Court in Freetown, presided over by Justices Alusine Sesay and Babatunde Edwards.
Today’s ceremony is meant to swear in 146 elected Members of Parliament and 14 Paramount Chief Members of Parliament of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone.
Quoting sub-section 2 of section 79 of Act No. 6 of 1991 and Parliamentary Standing Order 8, Speaker of Parliament Hon. Dumbuya avers that the “state of uncertainty and unrest among many Members of Parliament” have created “the current confused situation” therefore warranting an immediate postponement of the ceremony.
But legal luminaries say the Speaker has no legal authority to postpone such ceremony, citing section 86  of the 1991 Constitution which gives the President unlimited powers to summon Parliament at any time he deems necessary.
In addition, Hon. Tarawally called on all duly elected MPs to take their respective seats in the Well of Parliament today at 10:00 a.m. for the oath of office to be administered to them and the conduct of the election of the speaker and deputy.
The Clerk dismissed the press release issued by the Speaker, referring to it as “illegal and of no effect.” He went on to state that President Julius Maada Bio had earlier instructed him to convey Parliament pursuant to Section 86  of the 1991 constitution.
Meanwhile, political and legal analysts have opined that the spate of interim injunctions slammed against some All People’s Congress lawmakers puts the main opposition party in a rather difficult position to clinch the election of Speaker of Parliament.
With at least 11 of their new MPs restrained from taking up their seats in Parliament until the hearing and determination of the petitions, their number has been reduced to 58 instead of the original 68 Members of Parliament which had placed them in a vantage position.
The ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party has 49 lawmakers, while the Coalition for Change and National Grand Coalition parties have 8 and 4 members respectively. There are also three independent members, while the other 14 are Paramount Chief Members of Parliament.