Analysis

I Hope the House Gets it Right this Time.

29 October 2006 at 11:31 | 488 views

"The Peter Tucker committee did a good job for which I will also commend them, but at this moment it is very important for us to look at the constitution again because it has some ambiguous (unclear)provisions that have created controversies in the last few years. I would like the new committee to look at the following provisions in our constitution and make good recommendations that will help solve the problems they sometimes create : sections 56(1&2C),64(1) and 79(1)."

By Alpha Saidu Bangura,Atlanta,USA.

I commend the Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabba administration for establishing the constitutional review committee to revisit Act no. 12 of 1991(the constitution of Sierra Leone).

The Peter Tucker committee did a good job for which I will also commend them, but at this moment it is very important for us to look at the constitution again because it has some ambiguous (unclear)provisions that have created controversies in the last few years. I would like the new committee to look at the following provisions in our constitution and make good recommendations that will help solve the problems they sometimes create : sections 56(1&2C),64(1) and 79(1).

Section 56 (1).There shall be, in addition to the office of vice-president, such other offices ,ministers and deputy ministers as may be established by the president:

Provided that no member of parliament shall be appointed a minister or deputy minister.

There is a school of thought that believes that as soon as a person is duly elected a member of parliament that person should never(under no circumstances) be appointed a minister of government.

Some people believe that if a member of parliament is nominated for the position of minister, and that member of parliament resigns his or her seat then it is okay for the said member to be appointed a minister of government.
It will be best for the committee to re-examine this provision and make a recommendation that will be based on the true spirit of "SEPARATION OF POWERS".

Section 64(1) clearly states:There shall be an Attorney-General and Minister of Justice who shall be the principal legal adviser to government and a minister(he shall have a seat in the cabinet).
Section 56(2C) says:
"A person shall not be appointed a minister or deputy minister unless-
his nomination is approved by parliament".

Most people are of the opinion that anybody nominated for the position of Attorney-General and minister must get the approval of parliament.

After the 2002 elections president Kabba appointed Mr. Eke Halloway as Attorney-General and minister of Justice, without parliamentary approval. That action created a lot of controversies, to the extent that the Sierra Leone Bar Association took the Attorney-General to the supreme court and the supreme court ruled in favor of the Attorney-General and minister of Justice.

It is advisable for the committee to properly look at this provision and make a recommendation that will prevent further problems.

I will also like the constitutional review committee to examine section(79)of our constitution:
"The Speaker of parliament shall be elected by the members from among persons who are members of parliament or are qualified to be elected as such and who are qualified to be appointed judges of the superior court of judicature or have held such office";

In looking at the above mentioned provision, I would like the commission to deeply consider two things:(1)The job of the house of representatives is to make laws and to interpret the laws.

(2)The job of the Speaker is to preside over the proceedings of parliament and such proceedings are governed by standing orders.

Therefore, the only thing you need in a speaker is the ability to read and interpret the standing orders. Nobody needs to go to law school to be able to do that.

Above all, it makes no sense for the constitution(section 80) to state that the deputy speaker does not need to be a lawyer. The deputy speaker is the principal assistant to the Speaker(he or she takes the place of the Speaker, when the Speaker is absent)therefore he or she must be equally qualified as the Speaker.

To justify my point ,I draw your attention to the fact that Mrs. Elizabeth Alpha Lavalie is the present deputy speaker; by profession, she is an accountant.

With the utmost respect I have for the entire membership of the constitutional review committee ,I appeal to them to put aside their political affiliations and discharge their duties in the interest of Sierra Leone and her people.

Photo: Alpha Saidu Bangura.

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