The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Monday 26th August 2019 commenced a-three-day workshop for its various political and administrative Leaders on the theme “Building Bridges to Enhance Cooperative Governance”.
The retreat is being supported by the European Union and Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
The retreat which is being held at the Galliness Paradise in the outskirts of Bo City, has brought together several important personalities including experienced former and current Leaders of Parliament, administrators, influential facilitators as well as stakeholders to discuss issues that will prevent acrimony within Parliament and similarly promote the smooth running of the House politically and administratively to enhance national cohesion, harmony and peace in the country.
In his patriotic statement, the Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu said the retreat was an important event that would merely serve as the beginning of the process that would bridge the gap among the multifaceted political leadership in the House. He said that it was timely for the leaders to discuss and define issues relating to conflicts in Parliament and recommend solutions aimed at cushioning them.
The Speaker also elaborated on the functions of Parliament and its unique nature as well as guiding principles, whilst historically divulging on the political road map that had built democracy to the present day. “It is always important to reward ourselves for the political history we have gone through”, he emphatically stated adding that “We have translated our democracy and whatever we do in Parliament, our actions are curtailed by democracy”.
He acknowledged the challenges faced by Parliament, hoping that the outcome of the retreat will address them. However, he warned the current leadership against what he referred to as “interferences by intruders”. “We should not allow outside elements to influence our decisions in Parliament”. He recommended the application of continued dialogue and consultations as a subtle means of bridging the gaps.
On his part, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas vehemently said that conflict is unavoidable in a democratic society as long as human beings live with natural differences. He related the current political situation in Parliament as part of democratic practices as long as they are entreated with peaceful resolutions at the end. “It will only lead to disaster, if there is no peace” he noted and went on to say that, the composition of the current Parliament could deliver without democratic conflict.
Delivering his statement, the Leader of NGC, Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella deviated from conflict and adjudicated for negotiations as a means of minimizing the latter. “The people voted for a new dispensation and wanted a homogenous Parliament”, he revealed. He also informed the audience that the archaic Parliamentary Procedures and Standing Orders as wrongly connoted, should not serve as a barrier to best practices. “Power does not stand in one place”, whilst alluding to happenings in other countries today barely serve as examples for best practices. He strongly condemned bad precedents relating to a political conflict.
Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina categorically stated that most of the issues should have been addressed on the basis of sincerity. The young political heavyweight spoke on political remote control from outside Parliament, and called on MPs to put the nation above politics, adding that lack of political compromise as well as reviewing the Standing Orders were factors responsible for the existential gaps in Parliament.
Deputy Leader of APC, Hon. Alhaji I.B Kargbo said the retreat was necessary, adding that there are too many errors responsible for the current situations in Parliament. He said they as a political party are ready to support the government to develop the country and would give their cooperation as well as collaboration in the democratic dispensation.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sidie M. Tunis expressed renewed hope for a peaceful Parliament to exist after the retreat. He recalled and related some similarities and differences between the 1996 Parliament and current Parliament. “Our Standing Orders did not make provision for more than two political parties to exist in Parliament”, whilst pointing to the challenges characterizing the inter and intra political leadership skills that are engendering conflict and blamed himself for not consulting with ordinary MPs.
Earlier, the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally gave an overview of Parliament. According to him, the current Parliament has been restructured with ten departments to render services for the nation. He assured the leadership and the participants of working collaboratively to promote the interest of the state.
Representatives of EU and WFD assured Parliament of their continued support to democracy and further expressed hope for unity and peace in Parliament.
The retreat is expected to reduce the strong disagreements among the leadership of Parliament and identify the grey areas in the Standing Orders and the Parliamentary Service Act in order to review the aforesaid for the effective and efficient functioning of the political and administrative leadership of the Parliament of Sierra Leone.