Salone News

Sierra Leone: Peter Tucker Commission Ignites Controversy.

By  | 17 April 2007 at 13:11 | 1014 views

The Peter Tucker Constitutional Review Commission has been thrown into the spotlight recently when it made some controversial recommendations that have far-reaching consequences for the future of Sierra Leone.

The recommendations which need the approval of the country’s parliament and the people of Sierra Leone (via referendum) allegedly suggested, among other things, that Sierra Leoneans of Lebanese descent should be eligible to be appointed for all public offices except the presidency.It is also recommended that such people should vote and be voted for.Many Sierra Leoneans of Lebanese descent like deputy defence minister Joe Blell (photo) already hold public offices but Sierra Leoneans are still reluctant to send them to parliament or State Lodge.

Another interesting recommendation by the Commission which is examined in our ANALYSIS section by deputy editor Abdulai Bayraytay and one of our valued contributors Mr. John Musa of Maryland, USA, states that the president of Sierra Leone, his deputy and ministers, should be free from prosecution for actions they took while serving the country.The Commission suggests that the people should also vote on this and the other recommendations during the forthcoming general elections in addition to voting for a new president and parliament.

Many Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad have spoken against giving the Lebanese full political rights, fearing that with their economic might (they have been controlling the economy since independence)they could easily take over the country and dominate everybody. Other Sierra Leoneans however feel these "Afro-Lebanese" or "Sierra Leonean-Lebanese" should enjoy the same rights as other citizens born and bred in the country.

Again many Sierra Leoneans the Vanguard talked to categorically state that the president of Sierra Leone and his ministers should not enjoy immunity of any sort when they leave office as that would be tantamount to giving them carte blanche for whatever crimes they may have committed. Other Sierra Leoneans however support the idea, arguing that whatever the president and his ministers may have done while in office was done in the public interest.The Commission also made some recommendations on the need for a second chamber in parliament and a review of the death penalty.

An anonymous source has however told the Vanguard that the immunity clause never made it in the final draft of the recommendations presented to the press but we are yet to confirm that.But John Musa disagrees with this assertion.He sent us yesterday the following reaction:

"I saw someone .... saying the report did not contain immunity but Peter Tucker’s news conference account stated this:

"The issue of extending the immunity for the President to life is not in the Preliminary report given to journalists, though reports say the political parties have the same document where it is inserted."

I checked with an MP who told me it was contained in the report they have seen. They have yet to release the whole report because this was a ballon trial run to see the public reaction.

Now how do we know the (person) who has seen nothing can complain about it?"