From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

APC Demands Suspension of SLPP MPs …but SLPP MPs are not worried
By Augustine Samba
Nov 24, 2010, 17:06

Members of Parliament representing the All People’s Congress (APC) party have called for the suspension of their colleague parliamentarians representing the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

In the well of parliament on Tuesday 23rd November 2010, the APC parliamentarians insisted that the decision of the SLPP MPs to stage a walkout, thus boycotting the debate on the 2011 Appropriation Bill, was contemptuous and should be of concern to parliament.

“Obstruction of parliamentary proceedings is contempt of parliament and defaulters must be brought to book,” APC MP, Hon. David B. Conteh insisted in parliament.

Hon. Conteh alleged that the action of the opposition members of parliament was “unprecedented, unpatriotic and very insincere”.

According to him, the 2011 Appropriation Bill is a national issue that requires the participation of all stakeholders concerned.

“This Bill focuses on public expenditure towards projects including food security, infrastructural development, health, housing, good roads and many others” he disclosed, whilst emphasizing that such a Bill should be supported by everybody.

“Anyone who fails to recognize the aforementioned fact is an enemy of the country,” Hon. Conteh said.

Hon. Sufian Kargbo, also of the APC, expressed dismay over the decision of the SLPP MPs to alienate themselves from the budget debate.

The APC MP described the move as a disservice to the nation, especially when it happened at a time when such a crucial debate is being held.

He reiterated that the walkout was contemptuous and should be of concern to parliament.

“Such an action sends bad signal and undermines state authority,” Hon. Kargbo emphasized.

He pinpointed that the Kono incidence has no bearing with parliamentary proceedings, whilst describing the letter of the SLPP MPs which was addressed to the Speaker of the House as unwarranted.

Majority Leader of APC, Hon. Sheku B.B Dumbuya described the SLPP walkout action as regrettable.

Outside the well of parliament, APC MP, Hon. Coleson Turay told newsmen that ‘parliament is not supposed to discuss the Kono violence, since the issue can be handled by the police and the judiciary’. He insisted that the APC, PMDC and Paramount Chief MPs will continue with the debate and that any decision taken would be binding.

He however acknowledged the fact that such a Bill needs the input of SLPP MPs since they are representing the major opposition party in the country.

When contacted, Deputy Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon Emmanuel Tommy, who led the walkout on Monday, said the SLPP MPs are not worried at all by the suspension threats of the APC.

“Irrespective of the fact that they are trying to narrow down this issue as an APC/SLPP issue, we want the world to know that the continuation of unprovoked attacks is an issue that is tantamount to destroying the country’s fragile peace,” he explained.

The government, he continued, has a duty to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. “The SLPP is therefore gravely concerned over the failure of the APC led government to denounce unprovoked ruthless and violent attacks against members of the opposition and their party offices,” Hon Tommy intimated.

“The failure of the APC government to denounce violence meted on SLPP members by a group led by an APC supporter, even though such fact has been confirmed by the Political Parties Registration Commission and the police, is not only uncivilized but also detrimental to peace we are currently enjoying,” the Deputy Minority Leader said, whilst emphasizing that the silence of the government can be interpreted as an endorsement of the attacks.

“We restrained ourselves from revenging the attacks in order not to ignite unrest in the country and decides to use civilize methods to get justice. And until the government respond to our demands, we are going to withhold our services from parliament,” he emphasized.

Asked whether a possible ratification of the budget without their participation would not be detrimental to their party and the country, he responded thus: “Well, we do not expect parliament to ratify that budget without our inputs. But if that is what the APC intend to do, it is left with the international community, which funds 70% of that budget, to decide whether they are going to fund a budget without the input of the major opposition party.”

National Treasurer of the SLPP, Joe kallon has insisted that ‘the APC must show some signs of civilization by condemning the wrongs’.

“Our role as an effective opposition is to highlight the wrongs of the government, whilst we expect them to rise up to their responsibility,” he noted, adding that the walkout was geared towards concentrating the mind of the government to the grave issue of violence.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.