Opposition Sierra Leone Peopleís Party (SLPP) Members of Parliament, including those serving on the Committee on Appointments on Monday 14th June 2010 walked out from Committee Room No. 1 in protest over the re- appointment of the controversial Chief Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Christiana Thorpe for another term of office.
The SLPP Members of Parliament made a walkout following what they described as a despotic overrule by the Majority Leader of Parliament who is also the chairman of the Appointment Committee, Hon. Sheku B. B. Dumbuya.
What angered the SLPP deputies, including some APC parliamentarians was the nonchalant attitude of Hon. SBB Dumbuya in objecting to many of the questions posed by the MPs to the presidential nominee pertinent among which was whether Dr. Thorpe had been in compliance with rules and regulations guiding her duties especially with the nullification of the 477 polling stations during the 2007 Presidential run off election. Both Hon. Jobson Momoh and Hon. Ansu Kaikai of Pujehun District insisted that since the matter is pending jurisdiction in the Supreme Court, Dr. Thorpe had no business appearing before them for re-appointment.
This created such of constitutional embarrassment for the Majority Leader who admitted he was being concerned into a difficult situation for which he said "in my capacity as the Chairman and Majority leader, I donít want to put myself into a difficult situation that when a matter is in court Parliament has no right to do anything with it. I will hold my breath."
This statement further infuriated the Acting Minority leader who swiftly asked the Chairman for a leave on the ground that Parliamentary Standing Order 32 of sub section (6) which states that ĎReference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pendingí is being overruled, hence a breach of the law. He said it was a clear and blatant case of overrule by the Chairman against them as according to him a nominee should not come before the committee for any appointment when a matter is pending in court against him/her. "This is a violation of our right and the law of Sierra Leone. The position of the opposition is that we can not accept such a nominee", he expressed with authority, adding that as a Minority leader he was going to write a report on the matter.
Earlier, Dr. Thorpe had made self defence to the committee by indicating that her request was to help the people of Sierra Leone because according to her the continuation of her duty as Electoral Commission was best for the country as the global Community was yearning for good governance, and that elections were their highest priority. She cited as example her membership of ECONEC, a Commonwealth organizational body that deals with elections globally.
To further demonstrate her readiness for yet another term, she informed that her institution has sent 10 representatives to Ghana to be trained as tally centre staffs. "This is to ease our work as NEC will have tally centres in all regions across Sierra Leone for the 2012 elections," she disclosed, adding that they were as well currently training members of the Public on civic education and elections management.
As an especial impress on the committee for her fitness to continue heading NEC, Christiana Thorpe said she has the less privileged at heart, recalling her days as a religious Sister. "All these qualify me to be re-appointed as the Chief Electoral Commissioner, especially considering the fact that I have lots of talents and foresight with the belief in doing things straight without bending or twisting the truth," she preferred, disclosing that she lost 80% of her friends after the 2007 elections because of her straightforward stance.
Albeit the protestations and eventual boycott by the opposition and few other APC MPs, the APC dominated Appointments Committee endorsed her re-appointment.
Also to appear before the committee for various appointments were Messrs. Sany B. Sesay, Ibrahim Thorlley Bangura, Amadu Bangura, Festust Eyeka Minnah, Paul Koroma and Dr. Juluius Spencer.