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Initial Review Of The Fourth Parliament Of The Second Republic In 2012
By Sheku Lamin Turay, Senior Public Relations Officer (SPRO), House of Parliament (078 495 023)
Jan 8, 2013, 17:06
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The life span of Third Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone came to an end on the 25th September, 2012 when the Speaker invoked Section 85 of Act No 6 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone after His Excellency the President; Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma had made his farewell speech where he articulated the gains made in the Agenda for Change and why he should be given a second term to implement the Agenda for Prosperity. Section 85 of the said Constitution requires that to make way for the conduct of the just concluded November 17th General Elections, Parliament shall stand dissolved following its first sitting after the conclusion of a general election. Mark you, the President is a Member of Parliament as per the proviso of Section 73 subsection 1 of the said Constitution that provides for the establishment of Parliament consisting of the President, Speaker and Members of Parliament duly elected by their constituents. He does not sit as normal Parliamentarians do, but addresses Parliament once in every session or in some cases if invited by Parliament. He has an exclusively reserved seat in Parliament.

 

Preceding the just concluded elections which were engulfed with a lot of activities in preparations for the smooth conduct of the electoral processes spanning from the Public Elections Act, 2012 and its statutory instrument specifying nomination fees to be paid by candidates and its subsequent resolution, primaries conducted by political parties, nominations, campaign rallies, that culminated into voting on the 17th November, 2012.


After the Independent Radio Network had announced its provisional results, in the evening of Friday 23rd November, 2012, Dr. Christiana Thorpe the National Returning Officer after official counting and tallying duly returned the incumbent H.E Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma as President re-elect with 58.7% of the valid votes cast, leaving his main challenger Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP trailing with 37%. That same evening, the President re-elect was immediately sworn-in by the Chief Justice, Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh as set out in the Second Schedule of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, followed by his first address to the nation after his re-election was announced.

 

The main opposition considered the results to be flawed and took their petition to court for redress, even though the wider views of local and international observers acclaimed and validated the elections results as free, fair, and credible.

 

COMPOSITION OF THE FOURTH PARLIAMENT


The Fourth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone is composed of 124 Members, out of which we have 112 directly elected Ordinary Members of Parliament, and 12 Paramount Chiefs indirectly elected to represent the 12 Districts in the country. According to the list forwarded to the Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Ibrahim Sesay by the National Returning Officer, the majority party, APC won 67 seats, the minority party, SLPP won 42 seats, with 3 seats remaining vacant as a result of interlocutory injunctions ordered by the court (for Constituencies 5 and 15 in Kailahun and Kenema); the death of PMDC candidate in Constituency 92 in Western Rural Urban area during the campaigns was deferred pending a bye-election to be held after a period of six months , and 12 Paramount Chief Members of Parliament thereby bringing the total to 124. You need 2/3 (82 votes) out of 124 to take any major decision in the House such as the election of Mr. Speaker.


POST-ELECTION BRIEFINGS


On the 5th of December, 2012 the Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Ibrahim Sesay organized a one day post-election briefings for duly elected Members of Parliament in which Mr. Joseph A. Carpenter, former Clerk of Parliament was the resource person. Mr. Carpenter intimated Members about the relevant provisions in the Constitution and Standing Orders to make them efficient Parliamentarians in terms of legislation, representation and oversight. With regards to the election of Mr. Speaker, he cited section 48(1) of the 1978 Constitution which gives prominence to a Member of Parliament to be elected as Speaker is the source of Section 79(1) of Act No 6 of the 1991 Constitution with slight modification giving advantage to High Court or retired judges to serve as Speaker of Parliament. He also spoke on the need of strengthening the capacity of staff of the Parliamentary Service Commission to enhance efficient service delivery to Members. He also appealed to Members of Parliament to employ its own draftsman and parliamentary legal counsel so as to enable a lot of private member bills to originate and emanate from Parliament.

 

The Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Ibrahim Sesay intimated Members about the use of S.O 23 which borders around personal explanation devoid of controversy. A conducted tour to the chamber, the various offices and their functions within Parliament, and the grave site of late Sir Milton.A.S Margai and Siaka P. Stevens formed the highest point of the briefings.

 

FIRST SITTING OF PARLIAMENT


The first sitting of the Fourth Parliament after a general election held on the 7th December, 2012 initially marked a huge understanding, unity and cooperation between the APC and SLPP. The Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Ibrahim R. Bundu referenced Standing Order 4(b) that the first sitting of Parliament shall experience oath taking to be administered by the Clerk of Parliament as set out in the Third Schedule of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, the election of Speaker and Deputy, composition and approval of Committees on Selection (chaired by Mr. Speaker) and Appointments and Public Service (chaired by the Majority Leader), and recognition of the Leadership of the House.

 

The Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Ibrahim Sesay successfully administered the oath to Members and presided over the election of Mr. Speaker whose term of office comes to an end on that day. When the presiding Clerk called for nominations, the Majority Leader, Hon. Sheku B.B Dumbuya of APC nominated the incumbent Mr. Abel Nathaniel Bankole Stronge for the position of Speaker, and was seconded by the Minority Leader, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai of SLPP. At the closure of nominations, by virtue of the powers vested in the Clerk as a result of the unanimity duly returned the incumbent as Speaker for the Fourth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone. The Speaker was robed, took his oath, and seat respectively to preside over the election of Deputy Speaker. He actually retained his Speakership as determined by the House.

 

When the Speaker called for nominations for the election of Deputy Speaker from among Members as provided for in Section 80 of the said Constitution, the SLPP nominated Hon. Chernor R.M Bah of the APC for the position, and was seconded by the governing APC for a period spanning one year, after which another election will be held for the position until the life of this Parliament assembled expires. He was unanimously elected and took his oath respectively.Both of them were showered with impressive felicitations by Members. Hon. Foday Rado Yokie of Bo described Hon. Chernor Bah, fondly called Chericoco as being a selfless Sierra Leonean who is neither APC nor SLPP.

 

FIRST SESSION OF PARLIAMENT

 

The First Session of the Fourth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone was officially opened by H.E Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on the 14th December, 2012 at Parliament Building, Tower Hill, Freetown. This state function is required by law as guaranteed in Section 84 sub-section 3 of Act No 6 of the 1991 Constitution for the President to present a state of the nations address in every session spanning the five years to articulate his policies and programmes of what he intends to achieve during the term of his Presidency. His speech was well delivered at the Well of Parliament, upon conclusion the Majority Leader received and placed it on the table for the attention of the House as it is expected to be debated in five allotted days. As the President departed the precincts of Parliament after he had inspected the guard-of-honour before and after his address, the Speaker resumed his seat and adjourned to the 20th December, 2012.


In the exercise of separation of powers, the legislature makes the law, the executive implements the law, and the judiciary interprets the law and punishes law breakers. Therefore, the President appoints Ministers and Deputies whom he has the prerogative to hire and fire, and Parliament in turn through its Committee on Appointments and Public Service scrutinizes those nominees to ascertain whether they are fit and recommends to the Plenary for approval. This all important Committee consists of 16 Members including APC, SLPP and 1 Paramount Chief. The first two Presidential nominees who have successfully gone through this Committee and approved by Parliament are Dr. Kaifala Marah for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and Dr. Samura M. Kamara for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.


THE NATIONAL BUDGET

 

On Friday, the 21st of December, 2012 the new Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah introduced and did the first reading of the 2013 Government Budget in the Well of Parliament at Tower Hill in Freetown. The budget basically deals with income, expenditure, and revenue generation geared towards mobilization of fiscal resources with the ultimate view of actualizing the Agenda for Prosperity. He said among other things that, the economy was projected to grow by 51% in 2013, plans to reduce inflation to single digit, fiscal discipline and efficient debt management, the recapitalization of Bank of Sierra Leone, strengthening the oversight function of Parliament, and robust mobilization of resources from the minerals and other sectors with the aim of making Sierra Leone a middle income country.He also talked on the local content policy that will certainly link our natural resources to our human resources.

 

The Minister then put forward a Government Motion to authorize him pursuant to Section 113 of Act No 6 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone to withdraw over Le 831 Billion from the consolidated fund to meet necessary expenditure of Government for a period of four months, starting 1st January, 2013 or the coming into operation of the Appropriation Act of 2013, whichever is applicable. Mr. Speaker puts the motion as was read by the Minister, the Deputy Minority Leader of SLPP, Ansu J. Kaikai in his contribution encouraged Members to support the motion, which without further deliberations was unanimously carried by the House. The Speaker then adjourned Parliament to the 17th January, 2013.


WHATS NEXT IN 2013?

 

Immediately Parliament returns from its Christmas and New Years recess, a lot of activities are expected to be undertaken ranging from determining allotted days to debate the Presidents speech, and the appropriation where Ministries, Departments, and Agencies are going to be invited to defend their budgetary allocations in tandem with the past budget, formation and approval of the remaining standing and sessional select committees such as Mines and Minerals, and Finance among others, and the regularization of some unfinished jobs in the last Parliament.


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

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