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Sierra Leone
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

New Constitution to Provide Fix Date For Elections

January 14, 2022

By Alfred Koroma

While launching the Government White Paper on the Constitutional Review Process, President Julius Maada Bio informed the gathering, among other things, that, government accepted recommendations for a fix date of elections and inauguration of the elected president, as well as a proposed change in presidential candidate’s percentage for runoff elections.

He said the Office of the Attorney General will be separated from the Justice Minister where the Attorney General will become the principal adviser to the government while the Justice Minister will remain a cabinet member.

President Bio has yesterday 13th January launched the Government White Paper containing recommendations of the Technical Committee on the Constitutional Review Process.

 The Technical Committee was set up by the president to examine the recommendations given by the Justice Cowan led Constitutional Review Committee, to give effect to them as practicable.

The White Paper is the government response to the recommendations for the future constitution contained in the Technical Committee report.

He said government also accepted the recommendation for the future constitution to promote human dignity, fundamental principles of state policy and provides for the compulsory provision of free quality education and civic education.

 President Bio said government accepted recommendations to promote and protect fundamental human rights and freedom of the individual and reduced detention period, prior to being brought to court.

“Unlawfully arrested persons shall be entitled to compensation or public apology. Recommendation to provide a new chapter of the future constitution specifically assigned to define citizenship and address questions of discrimination and promote inclusion was also accepted,” he said.

“The PPRC will also be renamed. The constitution is also expected to promote women’s representation and participation in governance, and recommendations for changes in impeachment of president and removal of the Vice President are also entailed.”

While launching the paper, the president described the paper as ‘rational and more extensive’ than the 2017 White Paper.

Sierra Leone presently operates on the basis of the three decades old 1991 Constitution endorsed at the beginning of the rebel war. The constitution which was adopted during the rebel war, introduced a multi-party system of democracy in Sierra Leone, putting an end to 1978 dictatorial one-party state dispensation.

Article X of the 1999 Lome Peace Accord had long provided for a review of the constitution. The 2002 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) similarly recommended for the Government of Sierra Leone to give serious consideration to the creation of a new constitution to contribute to human rights and democracy in the country.

 This is a process that was supposed to have completed in the Ernest  Koroma regime. On the 30th July 2013, the former President launched his Constitutional Review Committee led by Justice Edmond Cowan.  But the then government rejected over 100 of the 134 recommendations submitted by the Committee to review the 1991 Constitution, an action that received wide condemnation. 

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