By Ragan M. Conteh
Members of Parliament, from both sides of the aisle, including visitors, were shocked on Thursday 29th April 2021 to hear apologies from the Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Chernor Abass Bundu, for the incident on Monday 19th April 2021.
The cruel situation, on 19th April 2021 in the Well of Parliament, was as a result of what the Opposition Members of Parliament referred to as ‘imposed Speaker’s failure to manage the situation.’
They said the Speaker used his bulldozing tactics; as he was elected during the laying out of the ceremony of the Mid Term Census paper in Parliament.
On his solemn statement, the Speaker stated that, on behalf of all the Members of Parliament, he regretted the incident on the 19th April 2021, adding that such should never have happened.
According to the Speaker, Members of Parliament, as expected by the public, should conduct themselves according to the law and behave like honourable members always.
He said what happened is “not unique to our Parliament,” adding that some might even say it is an incident of the country’s democratic process.
He said it is part and parcel of the expression of their democratic rights and obligations. The Speaker added that, on exceptional occasions, they do so outside the strict limits and strict boundaries of the law.
He said it is his fervent and open prayers. “What happened on Monday the 19th April 2021 will be recorded in the annals of the history of Parliament. It is most exceptional and not one characterized by sittings of the ordinary Honourable house,” he said.
Dr Bundu furthered that he will relegate that incident to the backburner, and hopes that never again will the conduct of Honourable Members stray beyond Parliament.
The Speaker hopes to enjoy the Members of Parliament’s confidence and trust, and assured them of his at all times.
During the sitting, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Chernor R.M. Bah, stated that they will not participate in the debate on the instrument laid by the Minister of Trade because of what happened on the 19th April 2021.
Hon Chernor Bah stated that, as opposition, they still stand on their position on the Mid Term Census bill, stating that they will not change their positions.
“We will stand firm against such illegal bill,” Hon Bah said.
The Opposition Members of Parliament went berserk, on that inglorious day, after the Speaker failed to listen to the concerns raised by the Opposition Leader, who quoted the Standing Order that he deemed to have been violated by the Leadership of Parliament.
The Opposition Leader cited that the Emergency Parliamentary sitting, summoned by the head of state, should be followed by consultation with leaders in the House of Parliament before the sittings.
He however questioned the leadership for the attempt of bypassing the laws governing the house of Parliament for reasons he perceived as personal or politically motivated.
The National Grand Coalition Leader, Hon Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, has also stood in solidarity with the Opposition Leader’s expression regarding the violation of laws governing the Parliament.
Hon Kandeh Yumkella stated that the fracas, in the Well of Parliament on Monday 19th April 2021, is as a result of the negligence by the Speaker to undertake consultations before sitting as enshrined in the Parliamentary Sanding Orders of Parliament.
He said the Speaker violated the Bo Declaration, where there was an agreement to work for the good of Sierra Leone and not for one political interest. He added that what happened in the Well is a clear manifestation of the bulldozing methods the SLPP government is used to in getting their way.
Many MPs say the apologies, from the Speaker, during the sitting on Thursday 29th April 2021, are not necessary.
“He should do the right thing, which must be devoid of political affiliation,” one MP noted.