ECOWAS Parliament Intervenes in Sierra Leone Parliamentary Election Stalemate

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Freetown, Sierra Leone – The Leaderships of the Sierra Leone  People’s  Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress  (APC) have agreed to take steps to ensure that  members of their  parties who have secured interim  restraining  orders  from  the  High Court,  the  execution  of  which  has generated the  present bottleneck  in  Parliament,  take  immediate   steps to  ensure the  vacation  of  these interim  orders  of injunction.

This measure will pave the way for the swearing-in  of all  the 68 Members of Parliament elected on the ticket of the APC and all the 49 Members of Parliament elected on the ticket of the SLPP. This will provide for the people of Sierra Leone a fully and properly constituted Parliament, consistent  with the popular  will of the people of Sierra Leone.

Thereafter,  Members  of  Parliament  can deal with  any outstanding  matters  in accordance with  the Constitution and Lawsof the Republic of Sierra Leone as well as the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Sierra Leone.  The ECOWAS Community Parliament  Mission remains confident that Sierra Leone has the leadership capable of dealing with  the  outstanding  issues in a  way that will   sustain and deepen her democracy and ensure the wellbeing of all.

Following the runoff of the Presidential election which resulted in the SLPP emerging victorious whilst  the APC obtaining the simple  majority  of the  Membership of  Parliament  and the events surrounding  the convening of the Parliament  of Sierra Leone notably – the attempted service of interim  injunctions issued by the High Court of Sierra Leone  on fifteen APC elected Members of Parliament  and one SLPP elected Member of Parliament, the staged protests of all 68 elected APC Members of Parliament, the forceful removal of the  protesters  from the Chamber of Parliament by riot police and the swearing-in of some Members of Parliament on April 24, 2018 – generated international  concerns.

This situation  necessitated  a   swift  joint   High-Level  visit  comprising  the  President of  the  ECOWAS Commission, H.E.  Claude Kassi BROU and the Special Representative of the Secretary General   of the United  Nations and the  Head of  the  UN Office  in West  Africa   and the  Sahel (UNOWAS), H.E.   Dr. Mohammed lbn Chambas. Thereafter,  in line with the 2016 Supplementary Act of the Enhancement of the Powers of the ECOWAS Community Parliament,  H.  E.   Moustapha Cisse-Lo,  Speaker of the ECOWAS Community Parliament constituted  a  Mission led by Rt.  Hon.  Edwin Melvin Snowe, Jnr., former  Speaker of the House of  Representatives of  Liberia and now Chairman  on Foreign  Affairs  of that  House; and including Hon. Mahama Ayariga,  Member of the Parliament of Ghana and  Hon Sale Poli, Member of the Parliament of Cote d’Ivoire,  to visit  Sierra Leone and inquire about the accuracy of the facts and the real situation and endeavor to resolve the impasse.

The Joint High-Level   visit   by ECOWAS  Commission and UNOWAS  held   meetings with  His Excellency

President  Julius  Maada  Bio, former  President  Earnest Bai Koroma and the  leadership  and  elect Members   of Parliament   of both  APC  and SLPP  and other  stakeholders    and urged  them  to work  towards an amicable    resolution    of the  issues.   The dignitaries   then  briefed   the  ECOWAS Community    Parliament Mission   and  further    mandated   the   Mission   to  engage  all  sides   in  Parliament    to  ensure   a   successful resolution     of the  impasse.

The  ECOWAS Community    Parliament     Mission   has  met  with   the  various   stakeholders    involved   in  this impasse.  We  have also  examined   video   clips  of  events  in  Parliament     on the  24th  of April  and  have  an appreciation   of events.

After   meeting     His    Excellency     President   Julius  Maada   Bio,  former    President    Earnest    Bai    Koroma,    His Lordship  the  Chief   Justice,   the  Speaker  of  Parliament,    the  Clerk  of  Parliament,   the  former   Speaker  of Parliament,    the  leadership    and Members   of Parliament    elected  on the ticket  of the APC and leadership    of the  SLPP,   and the  Secretary  General   of the  Mano  River Union   Secretariat,     Her Excellency  Amb.  Medina Wesseh the  ECOWAS   Community   Parliament   Mission  urged  all sides to accept   an amicable    resolution   of the  impasse  in Parliament   in accordance  with  the   Constitution    of the   Republic  of Sierra   Leone as well  as the  laws  and the   Standing   Orders  of  Parliament,      in order  to  sustain  the  peace and  stability    enjoyed   in Sierra   Leone.

The  ECOWAS   Community    Parliament    Mission   wishes  to  acknowledge    that   the  letter    authored    by the Secretary     General   of  the   ECOWAS  Community     Parliament,      stating   that   those   elected    Members    of Parliament  that  were  evicted  from  the Chamber  of parliament    by the  police  had already   taken  their  oaths, contained   factual   error  and  the  Mission   regrets  the  error.   The  Mission   is  however   very  grateful   to  the leadership   of His Excellency   President   Julius   Maada  Bio  and to the  people   of Sierra  Leone  for  their  warm reception    and   hospitality     during   the   period   of  our   mediation.    The  Mission   also  wishes    to   extend appreciation   to former   President    Earnest   Bai  Koroma   for his guidance   during  our Mission.   We are indebted to  the  leadership  of the  APC  and SLPP  for  their   openness  and  cooperation.    The  Mission  appreciates    the cooperation    of the  United  Nations    Development     Programme    (UNDP) Office   in  Sierra    Leone.

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