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Paramount Chiefs demand separate assembly

…calls for end of participation in Parliament

November 18, 2015 By Alusine Sesay

Council of Paramount Chiefs (CPC) has proposed to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) that a separate assembly – National House of Paramount Chiefs – be created for them, thus effectively ending their more than fifty years participation in the unicameral Parliament.

While presenting a position paper to the CRC, with support from the West African Network for Peace-building, Chief Charles Caulker, chairman of CPC said the partisan nature of the current one chamber Parliament seriously undermines the independence and integrity of Paramount Chiefs.

Chief Caulker said the proposed House of Paramount Chiefs would enable traditional rulers from the 149 chiefdoms to engage in healthy discussions devoid of political or regional sentiments.

Section 74(1a) of the 1991 Constitution provides that “Members of Parliament shall comprise the following— one Member of Parliament for each District who shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be elected in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law from among the persons who, under any law, are for the time being Paramount Chiefs.

Pursuant to the above section, twelve Paramount Chiefs are elected through an Electoral College to the House of Parliament, but the CPC has demanded that this section should be expunged from the revised constitution, to instead create a separate House of Paramount Chiefs.

Chairman PC Caulker said the proposed National House of Paramount Chiefs should have powers to regulate and monitor the conduct of chiefs as well monitor development projects in all 149 chiefdoms across the country, and that it shall be funded by government subvention.

He called for a codified customary law, adding that the law on ownership of land across the country should be harmonised in line with current realities.

He further demanded the retention of the no-term limit for Paramount Chiefs, as well as the retention of the Electoral College system for their election into office.

In his response, Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, Justice Edmond Cowan assured Paramount Chiefs that the committee would carefully look at the document and take it issues raised into consideration.

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