Speaker Urges APC Party Members to End Stalemate and Take Seats in Parliament

By Foday Moriba Conteh

Speaker of the Sixth Parliament of Sierra Leone, Rt. Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu, on Tuesday, 25 July 2023 called upon the members of the All Peoples’ Congress Party (APC) to resolve the ongoing stalemate and promptly assume their seats in Parliament. Out of the 54 APC members who were elected, only one has taken office, raising concerns about the potential implications for the country’s governance.

In his address during a parliamentary session, the Speaker highlighted the critical role played by esteemed APC members in shaping the nation’s democratic principles through the 1991 Constitution. He stressed the need for them to uphold their sense of national duty and put an end to any internal disputes that could hinder the party’s functioning.

Expressing concern about the use of outdated political tools like walk-outs and boycotts, the Speaker urged the APC members to embrace a more proactive approach to participating in the democratic process. He reminded them of the constitutional provision that could result in the vacation of their seats if they miss sittings for an aggregate period of 30 days without valid reasons.

The Speaker’s appeal comes as the APC faces challenges within its ranks, prompting fears of potential repercussions for Sierra Leone’s democratic stability. He emphasized the significance of unity and cooperation among APC members to ensure a stronger representation of their constituencies in Parliament and avoid a repeat of past issues that plagued the party.

According to Rt. Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu, the 25th July 2023, marks the third sitting of the Sixth Parliament to which a total of 149 Members have been duly elected by the citizens of this country in the last General Election held on 24th June 2023; the first sitting being on 13th July when those that are currently present took their oath of office as Members of Parliament.

He continued that to his left there are 54 seats reserved exclusively for Members-Elect of the All Peoples’ Congress Party (APC) who are yet to present themselves to the House to take their seats.

The Speaker said like all those present now, those who are absent too have been declared duly elected by the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) and, apart from Hon. Mohamed Bangura who has taken his seat, all the other 53 Members are yet to do so.

He said he wants to take the opportunity to specially acknowledge the presence in the Chamber of the Hon. Mohamed Bangura who has been well advised and directed to come and take his seat to represent the people who had voted for him.

“I thank the Hon. Mohamed Bangura for his wise decision, and I know this nation owes you a deep and abiding sense of gratitude for that singular patriotic action on your part,” he stated.

He pointed out how there is a coterie of highly respected citizens of this country most of whom he knows well and holds in high regard saying they have been either contemporaries of his at school or college or laboured together in public life in this country maintaining that they

are too numerous to call them by name but a good number of them are household names and are well known both here at home and abroad.

The Speaker said they are people who have served this country with great distinction in governance in both the public and private sectors and of whom this country is richly proud.

According to him, they are all members of the APC Party saying he wants to especially appeal to their sense of patriotism and duty to the country not to sit idly by and allow the present stalemate in their party to persist.

He said if they do, the result could be devastating and detrimental to their party and ultimately to the country as a whole as well as to the democratic polity adding how under their watch and leadership, this country promulgated the extant Constitution in October 1991.

“That Constitution eschewed the one-party system of Government that had governed the country since 1978 and reintroduced a multiparty democratic system as the only legal and acceptable polity that must prevail in this country and be held sacred by the entire citizenry,” he informed  adding how in the 1991 Constitution it is proclaimed that this country shall never again return to the abomination of the one-party system.

He said more specifically, every citizen is enjoined to, “participate in and defend all democratic processes and practices and render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order”.

The Speaker of Parliament therefore appealed to all those eminent citizens to whom he had referred to step up to their sense of national duty and not allow their Party to be hijacked again by a small band of greedy, selfish and self-seeking politicians whose era is already well past and spent.

He said not too long ago they sat idly by and allowed a situation to be nurtured for many years almost to the point of becoming entrenched within the framework of the APC until one of their own summoned the courage of conviction to having his day in Court by instituting legal proceedings against the APC and its Executive.

The Rt. Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu pointed out that mercifully the Court accepted the need to exorcise the entire APC Party Executives at all levels that had outlived their mandates and liberated the Party from the darkness of domination and bring it back to the bright light of compliance with the sacred democratic provisions of the very 1991 Constitution of which they were the architect adding how for that they say kudos to the Judiciary.

He maintained that now, another darkness is looming on the horizon and that is why he wants to appeal to all those eminent statesmen of the APC Party to rise up and liberate their Party from the clutches of despotism and authoritarianism before it is dragged again to the precipice of destruction and extinction.

The Speaker expressed the view that walk-outs and boycotts are political tools of yesteryears; they no longer have value and relevance and they are no longer fit for purpose in this 21st Century of participatory democracy.

He said the truth of the matter is palpably simple; if they withdraw themselves from participating in the process of decision-making then they should not be angry when others who agree to participate decide for them and their destiny.

Even worse, he stated, if they think foreigners from outside Africa have a right to come again to the country to help them take control of  governance or anything else that is not their entitlement under the country’s sovereign laws, then they are still living in the dark ages of colonialism which had long ago been banished to the attics of history.

The Speaker said the reality of the world in which we live today has changed maintaining how the new reality is clearly prescribed in the provisions of paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of Section 77 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone (Act No. 6 of 1991) with a provision stating that: “A Member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in Parliament if he is absent from sittings of Parliament for such period and in such circumstances as may be prescribed in the rules of procedure of Parliament.”

He said that provision is further amplified in S.O. 77 (2)(a) of the Standing Orders of Parliament: “Any member who, without good cause, during any session, is absent from the sittings of Parliament on a number of days amounting to an aggregate period of 30 days shall vacate his seat.”

According to him, that is the message he has for them today saying it is addressed more particularly to the eminent citizens of our land who have been duly elected as Members of the noble House and who are members the APC Party.

“I appeal to all of them to see reason and to step up and in consonance with their sense of national duty to come and take their seats in this Chamber to which they have been rightly and properly elected to represent their people before it is too late,” the Rt. Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu admonished.


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