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Friday, May 20, 2022

Fallay makes halfhearted apology for ‘extra time’ gaffe

…but un certainty remains with third term bid

By Mohamed Massaquoi

One term Member of Parliament and deputy Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Peoples Congress, APC, has apologised for his recent call for an ‘extra time’ for the presidency of President Ernest Bai Koroma, a development that has generated a lot of controversy and reproach among Sierra Leoneans.

Hon. Robin Fallay, in an interview with this medium, said his declaration was an opinion, adding that he respect the opinion of the president that he is not interested in the third term agenda as clearly stated in a press release from State House on 22 April, nothing that the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone clearly spells a limited two terms for an elected president, irrespective of whether it was served consecutively or not.

Fallay further claimed that his statement was to create a debate around the good work by the president over the past years so that he will be giving the opportunity to continue working in the interest of the country and its people.

“The president may not be interested in this but if he can continue to do the good work, it is my opinion that  we can renew his political contract that is all I am saying, I respect his views and my statement might  not be in line with what he wanted but he has done so many good which is the more  reason I came up with the debate,” he said, adding that  the constitutional review process is ongoing and if  the Committee thinks the issue is topical they can put it into a referendum for citizens to decide.

Despite Fallay’s dubious call for a so-called extra time for the president, State House has issued two statements denying the claim, with the recent release stating in no uncertain terms that President Koroma was only committed to his development strides.

Speaking to Sierra Leoneans recently in the United States of America, Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay, reiterated President Koroma’s commitment to fully abide by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which restricts any serving president of the county to two consecutive terms in office.

“President Ernest Bai Koroma is a firm believer and respecter of the rule of law and contrary to speculations and rumors, he has no intention to impose himself on the electorate by abrogating an entrenched clause of the 1991 constitution to bid for a third term in office. According to Section 46 (1) of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone ‘No person shall hold office as President for more than two terms of five years each whether or not the terms are consecutive,” said Bayraytay.

However, what remains uncertain is whether the president and his party will endorse any section or clause in the new constitution which will grant eligibility status to anyone, irrespective of whether he may have served both terms in the previous (1991) constitution, which is what a constitutional expert opined the ruling party might want to utilise.

Indeed, the current 1991 Constitution (Section 178(2) does not preclude a person from contesting as president, even though he may have served the mandated term stipulated by the 1978 One Party Constitution which it replaced.

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