Chaos and barbaric behaviours followed a swearing in ceremony of members of the legislature in Sierra Leone on Wednesday April 25, in the capital Freetown, in a second day running as the well of parliament was left above 40 percent vacant when members of the now opposition All People’s Congress staged in an apparent walk-out protest over a court injunction slammed against some of their members. Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally watched it all as the situations unfolded
The injunction notice was served to authorities in parliament which overturned the open invitation the Clerk had extended to all 146 MPs –elect the previous day when it was not served. “He could not openly inform members about the imminent change in the order of business when the notice was served as he did the previous day,” a member of the opposition APC fumed in a seethe of rage –talking to reporters in the well of parliament.
Row broke out in the process as supporters of the APC and those of the SLPP were up on each other’s throat in fist running battles. Outside the well of parliament were scenes of protest and mainly APC supporters resisting what they described as an open robbery of the mandate of the people of Sierra Leone who elected the said MPs.
The Clerk of Parliament , Honourable Umar Paran Tarawally ordered the police to march out protesting APC MPs who protested during the first sittings after an hour break of the 5th Parliament of the 2nd Republic. Police immediately came and frogmarched those. The Clerk quoted the Constitution of Sierra Leone and cited sections of the Standing Orders to reaffirm his statement on grounds of taking their seats or be shipped out by the police.
The House of Parliament resumed proceedings after an hour break sequel to a protest by the main opposition, APC. The contention was in line with the petitioning of 16 MPS elect as announced by the Clerk. The Honourable House commenced sittings on a Presidential Proclamation.
The other opposition parties include the C4C, NGC, Independent Candidates and the Paramount Chief Members of Parliament who ware in the well as proceedings continue. The ceremonial taking of oaths was carried out with 76 Members of Parliament in a calm atmosphere. They swore to the oath with the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible following which the MPs sat to elect the Speaker of the House and his deputy, whom went unopposed. They both belong to the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party.
The new Speaker and his deputy were elected in a half full and a controversial parliamentary proceeding were the opposition APC party formed 2/3 majority in the Legislature. They boycotted the process based on democratic principles.
Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu and Solomon S. Thomas were respectively elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker with 72 vote casts out of 76 MPs present. The NGC withdraw from voting for both positions. Hon. Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Yumkella explains the reasons for such as a resistance in favour of constitutionality and democracy, which allows different voices to speak on issues of national importance in parliament, including dissents. He suggested to the well of parliament that dialogue should be the way to go with the protesting All People’s Congress members who walked away rather than stiff measures against the voice of the opposition in parliament as in the view of democracy itself, government would be able to thrive well with a parliament full of opposing but constructive view points.
What you need to know about Sierra Leone’s New Speaker
Abass Chernor Bundu (born in Gbinti, Port Loko District) is a Sierra Leonean politician, diplomat and educationist. He is Sierra Leone’s elected Speaker of Parliament following the swearing in ceremony of the fifth parliament of the second republic of Members of Parliament on Wednesday April 25, 2018. He serves as a member of the transition team which exists as the interface between the Ernest Bai Koroma led government and the Maada Bio led Executive. He was the northern regional chairman of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the older brother of Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu, who was the majority leader of the Sierra Leone Parliament.
From 1989 to 1993, Bundu was the executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States. Bundu was the head of several ministries in Sierra Leone, including Foreign Affairs and Agriculture. He was the Presidential Candidate of the now defunct Progressive People’s Party (PPP) in the 1996 Sierra Leone presidential election, where he was defeated in the first round of voting after winning 2.9% of the votes. In 2018, Abass Bundu was duly elected Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Born into a prominent Bundu family in the rural town of Gbinti, Port Loko District in the north of Sierra Leone, Bundu holds both a Bachelor and a Master of Laws from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia and a PhD in economics from the University of Cambridge in England.
Abass Chernor Bundu was born in the rural town of Gbinti, Port Loko District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Bundu was born into a prominent Bundu Family who are of Fula and Temne descents. Abass Bundu grew up in a deeply religious Muslim household and he, himself, is a devout Muslim.
Bundu attended the St. Andrews Secondary School in Bo, the Methodist Boys’ High School in Freetown and the St. Edward’s Secondary School also in Freetown. While in secondary school, Bundu was a very brilliant student and he was highly admired by his fellow students and teachers.
Immediately after secondary school, Bundu left Sierra Leone as a youth and moved abroad to further his education. Bundu holds an Honours LL.B degree from the Australian National University (ANU), LL.M (Honours) and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is also a Barrister-at-Law.
Bundu’s numerous positions include Assistant Director of International Affairs and Consultant in Constitutional Law in the Commonwealth Secretariat in London from 1975–82; Executive Secretary of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) from 1989–1993, the posts of Foreign Minister (1994–1995), Minister of Agriculture 1982–85; and Presidential candidate in the 1996 Presidential election in Sierra Leone. Bundu failed to garner much support in the election, gaining just under 30,000 votes or 2.9% of the national vote. He is an expert on West African affairs and a renowned expert on constitutional and international law. Bundu has written a critical analysis of the Civil War in Sierra Leone, Democracy by Force?
Opposition to President Momoh
In 1991, Dr. Bundu strongly criticised President Joseph Saidu Momoh‘s government because of clauses their party wished to add to Sierra Leone’s constitution. He was then forced to leave the All People’s Congress (APC).
Dr. Bundu contested the 1996 elections as not democratically free and fair.
In 1996, Bundu formed his own political party and ran for president in Sierra Leone. His bid was unsuccessful.
Alleged corruption and exoneration
In 1996 Bundu was prosecuted for alleged illegal sale of Sierra Leone passports under the immigration investment program. In October 2005 Government of Sierra Leone dropped the prosecution and publicly exonerated Bundu of any wrongdoing based on new evidence which, had it been available in 1996, would not have given rise to any prosecution.