From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Politics
SLPP MPs Boycott Budget Debate
By Bampia Bundu
Nov 23, 2010, 17:14

Sequel to an earlier executive decision, Members of Parliament of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) yesterday Monday 22nd November, 2010 refused to be part of the ongoing debate on the Appropriation Bill by staging a decisive walkout from the well of parliament. This translation of a party executive decision was in protest of the APC led government’s failure of adhering to SLPP’s demand to identify and bring to book perpetrators of the dastard and ruthless attacks against the party membership in Kono recently by hooligans believed to be APC operatives.


When the bill was tabled before the honourable House for the purpose of commencement of debate, Hon. Elizabeth Alpha Lavalie drew the attention of the House to a letter dated Friday November, 2010 which was addressed to the Speaker of Parliament.  The letter highlighted the grievances from the Kono incident referencing the press releases issued by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) on 17th November 2010, and that of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) dated 15th November 2010 all for the attention of the Speaker.


The concerns of the SLPP, as stated in the letter, include ‘the smearing of human excreta on the party’s district office along Kainkordu Road, Koidu Town and on the house of the SLPP Young Generation Leader, Aiah K. Yusufu at No.6 Yardu Road, Koidu Town; pelting of stones on the SLPP delegation by irate APC youths, damaging vehicle wind screens and injuring SLPP members including the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Emmanuel Tommy, the National Chairman and Leader, Mr. John O. Benjamin, and SLPP Flagbearer aspirants in the persons of Alhaji Usman Boie Kamara, Alpha Timbo and Dr. Kadie Sesay including several SLPP supporters.

 

The MPs strongly condemn those ugly occurrences, and therefore used the letter addressed to the Speaker to further urge the government to form a team comprising the police, PPRC, Civil Society organizations and the international community as demanded by the party executive to immediately investigate and publicly report on their findings.

 

According to the letter, the SLPP MPs ‘demand from government an immediate response to our position, failing which we the SLPP Members of Parliament shall hold in abeyance our participation in the forthcoming debate and approval of the Appropriation Bill of 2011.’


After reading the letter, the Acting Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Chukuma Johnson, queried whether the letter was copied to anybody to which Hon. Lavalie responded in the affirmative.  She said the letter was copied to all stakeholders including the Clerk of Parliament, the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, political party leaders, the Secretary to the President, PPRC, SLAJ, UNIPSIL, US Ambassador, British High Commissioner, and the President of ECOWAS Commission.

 

It was at this juncture that the Speaker ruled that Parliament cannot look into the matter, as according to him, the matter has been taken out of parliament by copying people.


However, the Speaker reversed his decision after Hon. Elizabeth Lavalie educated the House that copying someone cannot be interpreted as taking a matter out of parliament. “We simply did that for their attention as all of them are stakeholders in democracy,” she argued.


The Speaker then reversed his decision and promised that the leaders of the political parties in parliament would be summoned to a meeting to discuss the issue.

Not satisfied with the responses from the speaker, Deputy Minority Leader stood up and announced that the SLPP MPs were not going to participate in the debate until their grievances were addressed accordingly. He then walked out and was followed by all SLPP MPs.


Hon. Mathew Nyuma, in an exclusive interview with the Awareness Times expressed dismay over the refusal of the government to publicly denounce violence against the SLPP.


“This is not the first time that our offices and members are being callously attacked and the APC government has never condemned such acts,” Hon. Nyuma said, adding that their letter to the Speaker was not treated seriously.


“We walked out of Parliament to send a strong message that we are tired of violent attacks and the government must denounce such violence,” he emphasized.


The Awareness Times learnt late last night that the Women’s Wing of the SLPP would today organize a press briefing on the issue.



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