Sierra Leone News & Information

State House | Press Union | Lumley Beach | AllAfrica | SL-Web

  Giving Knowledge to the People
welcome to sierra leone's premier news source
Last Updated: Apr 21st, 2009 - 21:58:24 
Front Page 
 Breaking News
 Local News
 Photo News
 Video News
 Moiie's Column
 Role Models
 Awareness Lady
 Common Man
 Special Greetings
 Legal Matters

Published online by
Sylvia Blyden Dot Com

17 Garrison Street,
Sierra Leone.
Tel: +232-77-772001
Tel: +232-88-321000
Tel: +232-76-350077
Tel: +232-30-321001


Turning Sierra Leone Into A Republican State - First Published 19th April 2006 & Reproduced Today By Popular Demand
By Awareness Times Research Dept.
Apr 21, 2009, 17:30
Email this article
 Printer friendly page

Since 1971 until the overthrow of the APC by the NPRC in April 1992, Sierra Leone under the APC had always celebrated April 19th as its National Holiday. April 19th 1971 was the date that the Siaka Stevens led Government got the assent from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to declare that Sierra Leone was now a Republic.

In this article, Awareness Times Newspaper is taking a look at the events leading to this declaration from the perspective of top insider of that Siaka Stevens APC regime.

In 1967, the then-Prime Minister, Sir Albert Margai (father of Lawyer Charles Margai) tabled a bill before the Sierra Leone Parliament which he named the 1967 One Party Bill. This Bill was essentially the SLPP Government of Sir Albert Margai asking for Parliament to turn Sierra Leone into a One-Party State.

The APC which was then in Opposition, campaigned strenuously against the passing of the Bill and raised much sentiments amongst the general populace against the SLPPs efforts to turn Sierra Leone into a One Party State.

Albert Margais Bill was tabled once before the elections of 1967 and it was expected that if and when he won the 1967 Elections, he would table the bill a second time as constitutionally required and pass the One-Party Bill into Law.

Unfortunately for the Albert Margai led SLPP Government, they lost the Elections of 1967 and after a series of well documented military adventures, the APC led by Siaka Stevens took over the reigns of Government in Sierra Leone.

Siaka Stevens who had been the most vociferous antagonist of Margais efforts to introduce a One Party State, after assuming power in 1968, made an interesting about-face-turn within a few short months and asked that the Albert Margai One-Party Bill be tabled again in Parliament albeit with a few amendments. The Bill was passed into law after some slight editing to it. One of Siaka Stevens closest allies at the time was a brilliant Creole Lawyer, Solomon Pratt who was then bitterly accused of having been the one who pioneered the passing of the Albert Margai One Party Bill. The reality, according to our research is that Pratt had not even been present when the Bill was passed into law. This is corroborated by several parliamentarians back then; one of whom is quoted below:

"Babe Wright and Solomon Jolliboy Pratt were still at the Printing Office doing further editing of what was supposed to be the "First Draft"! Albert Margais One Party Constitution was adopted whilst Solomon Pratt was not even present in the Chamber Pratt was in the Government Printing Office. Yet his detractors poisoned tongues continued to wag that Parliament did not know what to do and that it was him who told MPs what to do that day and that he pioneered the passing of the Legislation and that it was Pratt who even drafted that One Party Act."

Like a Hunter who fell into his own trap, the APCs adoption of Sir Alberts One-Party Constitution caused them to become very unpopular and Solomon Jolliboy Pratt soon after became most unpopular as the propaganda then was that he had manipulated for the SLPPs One Party Constitution to be passed. It turned out that the propaganda was most unwarranted but with only a relatively tiny Mountain District Support base as compared to others in the APC cabinet with huge support bases covering large swaths of provincial territory, Jolliboy Pratt was readily sacrificed by Stevens who unceremoniously dumped him from his cabinet in a bid to regain his dwindling public rating. Unlike Tejan Kabbah who very rarely allows public sentiments to influence his decisions taken towards his ministers, Siaka Stevens knew precisely when to sacrifice an ally of his and so in 1969, he implemented a reshuffle which was announced in Sam Metzgers Unity Newspaper with a screaming headline of JOLLIBOY OUT!

However, the dumping of Pratt from his cabinet did not help much to ease Siaka Stevens Public Relations woes neither did the Albert Margai/SLPP One-Party Constitution provide Stevens with the political insulation he had hoped for. SLPP Parliamentarians became even more vociferous whilst John Akar in the United States was proving to be very effective in propagating negative sentiments against Stevens and his APC Government. Even certain senior and very important APC members were now openly challenging Prime Minister Stevens. Stevens was losing control. The John Bangura Coup Plot made Stevens even more jittery as he saw his hold slipping away from him. To make matters worse, after the failed John Bangura Coup Plot, our research indicates that Siaka Stevens turned to the British High Commission requesting for military assistance from Her Majestys Government. He was however reportedly roundly rejected and this rejection was allegedly not unconnected with his stance back in 1961 when he kicked against the British having a Naval Base in Sierra Leone.

The sentiment from the British appeared to be one of, "If you so vehemently did not want us to be based here, why ask us now for military assistance?"

Stevens took the rejection from the British personally, developed strong ties instead with Sekou Toure of Guinea and Fidel Castro of Cuba who augmented his military strength and protection. The rejected Stevens then started to toy with the idea of totally cutting off Sierra Leone from Britains domination.

It can be recalled that when Sierra Leone gained Independence from Britain on April 27th 1961, we were still tied to Britain as a Dominion under the British Monarchy and we still had Her Majesty the Queen as the Head of State. We also had a Governor General stationed as a representative of the Queen.

This is the same situation that countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada find themselves. They are all named as Dominions under the British Monarchy with the Queen as their Head of State even though they have achieved independence from Britain.

Now, let us go back to the era of 1970/71 and the rejection of Stevens appeal by the British. Inasmuch as Siaka Stevens wanted to cut off all ties from Britain whom he felt had betrayed their Dominion in Sierra Leone by refusing to render military assistance to the Stevens Government, reports have it that he [Stevens] however did not have much idea as to how to go about legally turning Sierra Leone into a full fledged Republican State.

Next door Gambia had been able to undergo this change from merely achieving Independence to becoming a fully fledged Republican State. It is reported that Stevens had to now turn back to his old ally, Solomon Jolliboy Pratt, one of Sierra Leones most brilliant legal minds, who was at that time, having been sacked from Stevens cabinet, back in his private law practice. Solomon Jolliboy Pratt found himself facing what he would later refer to as one of the biggest quandaries of his lifetime. Should he assist to turn Sierra Leone into a Republican Independent State or should he snub Stevens request? Pratts unceremonious sacking by Siaka Stevens had left him, a poor village Creole Boy from Regent Village, Mountain Rural District, feeling betrayed and badly let-down by Stevens. His name had been roundly slandered all over Sierra Leone as being responsible for an Act of Parliament that had been passed in his absence and virtually no-one in the APC hierarchy had stood up to state otherwise.

Those who were amongst the inner APC caucus during that period, report that the lack of a public defence of Solomon Jolliboy Pratt from his erstwhile colleagues in the APC Cabinet was deliberate. Not only was Pratt a perfect scapegoat for the woes of the APC of that time but the reality was that Pratt had been trying to have the Stevens APC Government include certain amendments to the Margai One-Party Bill that had been made by Hon M. S. Mustapha before the 1st Reading of the Bill under the SLPP in 1967 BUT Pratt had been facing opposition to the inclusion of those amendments as the amendments were now under the APC seen to be inimical to the interests of the then APC Government.

As an excuse, Stevens had stated that since the soldiers who staged the Juxon-Smith Military coup had vandalised all those amended documents, the Government should just go ahead and adopt the One-Party Bill in its original available state without Hon. M.S. Mustaphas amendments. However, Solomon Pratt knew that the Government Printers had copies of the amendments already printed and in storage.

So, whilst Solomon Pratt and Babe Wright (the then Clerk of Parliament) had been busy digging out in the storage archives of the Government Printing Press for copies of the printed amendments to Sir Albert Margais One Party Constitution that Hon. M. S. Mustapha had made to the original Bill at its First Reading before the General Elections of 1967, Parliament passed the original Bill with all its flaws, ignoring what Pratt always referred to as Mustaphas "intelligent input".

Pratt therefore was torn between his feelings of betrayal by Siaka Stevens whom he felt sacrificed him needlessly and Pratts innate patriotic support for efforts to turn Sierra Leone into a truly independent Republican State.

Eventually, Pratt acceded to Stevens request and agreed to go to The Gambia and find out how it was that Sir Dawda Jawara had been able to turn The Gambia to a Republican State. It is however believed that Pratt negotiated with Siaka Stevens that he should be brought back as a Minister into the Cabinet from which he had needlessly been removed, in return for assisting Stevens. Some believe that this was Solomon Pratts own way of letting his former colleagues acknowledge that he was a much needed brain in Sierra Leone.

Pratt who was actually born in The Gambia of Sierra Leonean parents was already well respected by Sir Dawda Jawara and the Gambians. He therefore reportedly found it very easy to undertake the task of going to The Gambia and investigating how to turn a country from being merely Independent to becoming a fully fledged Republican State.

Reports from Sir Dawda Jawara have it that he immediately welcomed Solomon Pratt and instructed his Private Secretary, one Mr. Christensen to show Pratt everything. Pratt then copiously writes down the lengthy legal and administrative procedures that The Gambia followed that enabled Sir Jawara to get the assent of Her Majesty the Queen for The Gambia to become a Republican State.

Pratt travels back to Sierra Leone and reports back to Siaka Stevens. Using the notes of Exchanges of Letters between Buckingham Palace and Sir Dawda Jawara as their guide, Sierra Leone follows the Gambians procedures to the letter.

Sierra Leone then needs to show that they have a Republican Constitution distinct from the Independence Constitution which has the British Monarchy as Head of Government.

So, Sir Alberts One Party Act was again used as the base to hastily draft a brand new Republican Constitution. The Constitution was still essentially the same Sir Albert one but with slight changes such as the word President replacing Her Majesty the Queen.

It now appears that Siaka Stevens did not trust Sir Banja Tejan Sie to act as the Transitory Executive President and so Stevens cleverly manipulated to send Banja Tejan Sie on leave shortly before the Queen gave her assent. The then Chief Justice, Okoro-Cole being next in line was therefore sworn in as the First Constitutional President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Being a much easier person to manipulate than Banja Tejan Sie, Chief Justice Okoro Cole swiftly within a matter of hours then handed over power to Siaka Stevens who promptly described himself as an Executive President after his [Stevens] claim that a so-called tour of the nation proved to him that the popular choice of Sierra Leoneans was for the country to have an Executive President. Sierra Leone therefore became a fully fledged Republican State completely independent of Her Majestys Kingdom on April 19th 1971.


1. Siaka Stevens was arbitrarily and unjustly incarcerated in detention at Pademba Road Prisons with a host of others including I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson & the John Brothers by Sir Milton Margai during the 27th April 1961 Celebrations for fear that Siaka Stevens & his group would have wanted to violently sabotage the celebrations. The entire group of detainees was released after the Royalty representing the Queen, the Duke of Kent, departed the shores of Freetown. As a result of his unfair detention during the April 27th Celebrations, Siaka Stevens hated celebrating on 27th April & instead as Executive President, chose 19th April (Our Republic Day) as the National Day of Sierra Leone. President Stevens told the citizens that it was only after we became a Republic that we could truly say we were running our own affairs independently. This was the state of affairs until the NPRC Military Coup which saw April 19th being ignored and relegated to the dustbins once again and April 27th being re-instated as the National Day of Sierra Leone.

2. Upon being turned into a Republican State, Sierra Leone was now operating under a new Republican Constitution which was in essence Albert Margais One Party Constitution with a few grammatical changes here and there. However, the One-Party 1971 Constitution back then was not the notorious One-Party 1978 Constitution. The concept of One-Party as initiated during the reign of Sir Albert Margai under the SLPP was basically saying that politicians could belong to different political parties and they could get elected into parliament under the banner of their different political parties be it the UDP, the SLPP or the APC. However, upon being elected into Parliament, all politicians should now speak with one voice and drop whatever partisan differences they held. This was the concept of One-Party of Sir Albert Margai. This 1971 Republican Constitution essentially stated the same thing. This however did not give Siaka Stevens absolute free reign to clamp down on partisan politics and after several failed coup-plots and military skirmishes against his authority as President, a jittery Siaka Stevens thought he needed to clamp down on dissident opposition and hence the creation of the 1978 Constitution which now outlawed the existence of any other party but the All Peoples Congress of Siaka Stevens. ###

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
In Sierra Leone, Cocaine Foreign Convicts Flown Out Quietly
In Sierra Leone, Teenage Mother Dumps Baby in Dust Bin
In Sierra Leone, Sexual Abuse Mounts in Tonkolili
Applauding SLPPs John O. Benjamin
Amidst Rising Political Tension.Awareness Times Editor Faces Death Threats
Who Burnt This Car?
Na Buakay Dehn
RSLAF Should Apologise for Sycophancy
Statement by His Excellency Ernest Bai-Koroma Lead & Chairman, All Peoples Congress Party At the All Peoples Congress Party Convention April 16-18, 2009
Turning Sierra Leone Into A Republican State - First Published 19th April 2006 & Reproduced Today By Popular Demand
Sierra Leone's Ruling Party Mocks Rape Victims: CULLED FROM APC WE-YONE NEWSPAPER
Solomon Ekuma Berewa Gets Surprise 70th Birthday Party
Sierra Leone's Kha-Benneh Bangura Wants Your Votes
Goapele, Daddy Saj and Mahala @ Zanzibar on Night of Saturday 26th
Bio Data Of The Former President Of The Republic Of Sierra Leone Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
A Chat With Sierra Leones First Doctorate Chartered Accountant: Dr. Dante Alie Bendu (B.Sc Hons, M.Sc, M.A., FeICM, ACCA, PhD)
Sierra Leonean Woman Excels In UK
Kailahun SLPP MP frowns at Finance Minister in Sierra Leone
Sept 23: Millicom Sierra Leone bounces back
Romanian buys more Sierra Leone Diamonds shares
Status Of CDIID Investigations Into Complaints Of Unprofessional Conduct Of Idrissa Kamara (A.K.A. Leatherboot) & Other Members Of Presidential Guard.
President Koromas 21 April 2009 Message To The Nation For A Period Of Fasting Till 5th July 2009
Sentencing Of Cocaine Plane Convicts: Delivered Yesterday Tuesday 21st April 2009 by the Honourable Justice Nicholas C. Browne-Marke: Consequential Orders: Restitution, Confiscation, Forfeiture
Sierra Leone Envoy Launches Sierra College Foundation (SCF) in the UK
Contracting Authority: The ECOWAS Commission Support to Regional Integration in West Africa
Union Trust Bank Opens Branch in New England Freetown, Sierra Leone
Sierratel Launches
Now In Stores
Sierra Commodities Company Limited
Yenga oh Yenga!
You Draw Rope
The Ballads Olu Gordon Claims Identifies Him
Awareness Times to re-open its Anonymous Discussion Forum
Meet the Awareness Team

Copyright © 2005 - 2007, Awareness Times Sierra Leone; All Rights Reserved.
Hosted & Designed by West Africa Dot Net