In The Interest of The People… APC Should Put Its House In Order

By Amin Kef Sesay

For those following the country’s politics on Social Media, it is plain to see that the All People’s Congress which is the only political party in Parliament capable of providing the people of Sierra Leone an alternate Government is not only in disarray but different factions are busy fighting each other.

The responsibility of the opposition in Parliament is to serve as check on the party in power on behalf of the people that voted for them, however, that seems to have become seriously compromised – given the amount of aberrations from constitutional rule that agents and proxies of this Government have engaged in since coming to power in 2018.

The opposition in Parliament should be clear about their procedural guidelines on rights and responsibilities in a democratic Parliament.  This emphasizes the role of the political opposition as an essential component of a well-functioning democracy.

In this regard, the Opposition’s main role is to question the Government of the day and hold them accountable to the public. This also helps to fix the mistakes of the Ruling Party. The Opposition is equally responsible in upholding the best interests of the people.

The principle of majority rule, reflecting the majority popular will, is a basic formal and legal criterion of a “Democracy”.  Within Parliament, decisions are taken by the majority. What the opposition does not know is that in actual fact, put together, the opposition is in the majority in the Sierra Leone Parliament. This gives it great strength to check the excesses of the Government as well as to influence decisions that it takes.

Agreed that the function of the opposition is not to rule, however, the opposition has other functions that include:

  • To offer political alternatives
  • To articulate and promote the interests of their voters (constituents)
  • To offer alternatives  to  the  decisions  proposed  by  the  Government  and  the  majority representatives
  • To improve parliamentary decision-making procedures by ensuring debate, reflection and contradiction
  • To scrutinize the legislative and budgetary proposals of the Government
  • To supervise and oversee the Government and the administration
  • To enhance stability, legitimacy, accountability and transparency in  the  political  processes

The extent to which the opposition fulfils these functions is a sign of the level of democratic maturity. If none of them are fulfilled, it is a sign of a dysfunctional democracy.

Another issue is how the leadership of Parliament tends to treat some MPs differentially when it comes to the allocation of Committee duties.

It is implicit that an MP is an  MP,  whether  in  opposition  or  not. Equal  treatment  of  Members  of  Parliament  has  to  be  ensured  in  all  their  activities and privileges. These typically include:

  • The right to vote on legislation, budgets, etc
  • The right to table bills and motions
  • The right to speak in debates
  • The right to ask oral or written questions of the Government
  • The right to participate in Committee work
  • The right to receive information and documents presented to Parliament
  • Parliamentary immunities, such as Parliamentary non-liability (Freedom of Speech) and parliamentary inviolability (Freedom from Arrest)
  • Freedom of Political Opinion, including protection from  “imperative  mandate”  and  the right to change party allegiance
  • The right to initiate cases before the Constitutional Court

Not all MPs enjoy all of these rights and competences.



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