From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

SLPP MPs Walk Out of Thorpe’s APC Re-appointment
By Mohamed Kanu and Augustine Samba
Jun 18, 2010, 13:38

The Members of Parliament (MPs) representing the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in Parliament on Thursday 17th June 2010 unanimously staged a peaceful walk-out from the well of Parliament following the re-appointment of the former Chief Electoral Commissioner Dr. Christiana Thorpe with votes from the ruling All Peoples Party (APC) and the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC).

The SLPP MPs made this decision, during a debate on the motion to approve five Presidential Nominees including Dr. Christiana Thorpe who was to be re-appointed as the Chief Electoral Commissioner for the forthcoming 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Dr. Christina Thorpe was vehemently criticized by the SLPP MPs on several grounds ranging from violation of the constitution to being autocratic in her duty as Chief Electoral Commissioner.

Following high tension agreements and disagreements between the three parties representatives in Parliament on this re-appointment, the Speaker of Parliament in his wise decision ordered the MPs to go into voting by hand rising.

Minority Deputy Leader of Parliament Hon Emmanuel Tommy raised an issue in objection to the re-appointment of Dr. Thorpe with a presentation of the Minority Report which entails recommendations that during Dr. Thorpe’s tenure as Chairperson of the Commission, certain rules, regulations and orders were not laid before Parliament which according to him, were all in accordance with Section 170 (7) A, B and C of the Sierra Leone Constitution Act No. 6 of 1991, as stated, "Any orders rules or regulations made by any person or authority pursuant to a power conferred in that behalf by this constitution or any other law, (a) shall be laid before Parliament (b) published in the gazette on or before the day they are to laid (c) shall come into force at the expiration of a period of 21 days, annuals any such orders rules or regulation by the vote of not less than two third of Members of Parliament."

Another submission put forward by Hon. Tommy was the unauthorized signatory appended by the Chief Electoral Officers on behalf of the former Electoral Commissioner of Western Area, Madam Daphne Olu-Williams during the delimitation of boundaries in 2008.

Further, he expressed that the Chairman of the Appointment Committee overruled his application during the Committee meeting on standing Order 32 Subsection (6), as stated; "Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending." The respected longest-serving female parliamentarian, Honorable Elizabeth Lavallie of the SLPP also stated that although they are fighting for women to be positioned on top decision making points, this will not let them support the reappointment of Dr. Christian Thorpe.

She informed that women who deserved positions of power should have integrity and quality and should not violate their duties. She expressed criticism that even though Dr. Thorpe is empowered to make rules, this should not prevent her from bringing her reports to Parliament for approval.

Honorable Elizabeth Lavalie went on that Dr. Thorpe has always been flouting the laws of this land with impunity.

"She recently opened an educational institution under the purview of the National Electoral Commission unknown to Parliament" Hon Lavalie cited, adding; "all this has shown that Dr. Thorpe is not a woman of integrity who should be entrusted with such a high position". She disclosed that the opposition is not against her re-appointment because of revenge but insisted that Sierra Leoneans should always learn from their past mistakes and make a change for the future.

"It was the SLPP that first appointed Dr. Thorpe to head that office, but due to her persistent flouting of the country’s laws and regulations the party has no more trust in her to be reappointed to head this same Commission" Hon. Lavalie asserted.

However, in the wake of the walk-out by the SLPP MPs, both the APC and PMDC parliamentarians went ahead to endorse and approve Dr. Thorpe as the Chief Electoral Commissioner for the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

Amongst other nominees endorsed Sanie F. Sesay, proposed Chairman for the Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Ibrahim Y.W Bangura proposed Board of Trustee Member Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), Festus Minnah proposed Board Trustee Member Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, Alieu Paul Koroma proposed Member Sierra Leone Port Authority and Amadu Bangura proposed Board Member Sierra Leone Port Authority.

Although he was present in parliament, the ruling party dominated Parliament rejected the nomination of Dr. Julius Spencer as a member of the SLBC Board of Trustees.

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