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Saturday, May 21, 2022
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Parliament to establish CSO desk

By Jariatu S. Bangura

The Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass C. Bundu, has confirmed a resolution signed between parliament and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for the establishment of a CSO-desk in parliament has been approved by the leadership of parliament.

In August last year; the two sides signed a communiqué at the Brookfield’s Hotel for the establishment of a CSO desk in parliament in order to develop a comprehensive CSO-Parliament programme.

The desk was said to be overseen by a steering committee comprising MPs and CSO leaders and will work to solicit funding for the first two years and that the CSO/ Parliament program will comprise joint public education on the role of parliamentarians, the establishment of accountability forum for sustained public on the roles and responsibilities and accountability of parliament.

The communiqué will give CSOs the right to educate parliamentary constituencies in real time on bills, policies and programs discussed, approved or rejected by parliament. Also, Parliament will invite CSOs in pre-legislative briefings and as expert witnesses on committee, CSOs  will share their thematic work areas with relevant committees, among others.

According to the Speaker of Parliament, the CSOs are the third voices in the national constitution and that their role was very key in the performance of their duty in the society.

He said there was need for non-state actors to support the work of parliamentarians thus the establishment of the CSOs desk in parliament will be of great help.

“The leadership of parliament has endorsed the recommendations and will establish a CSO desk but the desk will not be an empty one,” he said.

He said parliament should continue the watchdog of the people, continues the oversight role and holds the Executive accountable, adding that for the work of parliament to be effective and efficient, there was need for parliament to work with CSOs.

Representing Civil Society Organizations, Abu A. Briama said  CSOs have always been working with selected committees in Parliament and that there was need for the formalization of such a relationship between them and the House as key players in the development of the country.

He said CSOs exist to hold government to account for effective and democratic governance in the country and that there has been some engagements since the communiqué was signed.

 He said they were glad that Parliament called on  them  again to actualise what they signed back in 2021 at Brookfield’s Hotel.

Representative of UNDP in Parliament, Hon. Rosaline J. Smith commended the effort made so far by parliament an CSOs, stating that the two have been fighting each other on social media and other platforms.

She said there was need for the two to strengthen the relationship for the benefits of Sierra Leoneans, who they both represent.

European Union Representative, Adams Fusheini said the work of CSOs was not to be spectators but rather to tell constituents the roles Parliamentarians do once they are elected.

He said parliamentarians make laws, represent their people and do oversight function and not build or construct roads, pay school fees and pay for medical bills in their various communities.

He said once parliamentarians exhaust their purse to do all the aforementioned necessities, they are left with nothing but to act corruptly to satisfy the needs of their constituents

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