ECOWAS Parliament Intervenes in Sierra Leone Parliamentary Election Stalemate
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.