Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a tumultuous turn of events, Members of Parliament (MPs) engaged in a heated and chaotic debate on the 2024 budget on Thursday, November 23rd, creating a ruckus in the well of parliament.
The chaos erupted when Honorable Quinton Konneh of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), representing Kailahun District, accused MPs of the All People’s Congress Party (APC) of criticizing the government for overspending while simultaneously demanding payment for their backlogs, despite allegedly not fulfilling their duties as MPs. Hon. Quinton asserted that the government would not pay for work not done.
“Why are the opposition MPs criticizing the government for overspending and also asking the government to pay your backlogs when you did not work…” questioned Hon. Quinton.
In a swift response, Hon. Daniel Koroma of the APC, representing Koinadugu District, refuted Hon. Quinton’s comments. He clarified that opposition MPs went to parliament not for backlogs but as part of a peace mediation dialogue between the opposition and the government. Hon. Koroma also accused the SLPP of stealing the majority seats in parliament.
The exchange escalated, with opposing MPs standing apart, and tensions rising to the point where physical altercations were narrowly avoided with the intervention of other MPs.
Following the impassioned speeches, offensive chants erupted from both sides, with SLPP MPs asserting that there would be no payment of backlogs to APC MPs, while APC MPs accused the SLPP of election theft.
In an attempt to restore order, House Speaker Hon. Abass Chernor Bundu called the two leaders for a dialogue. After their discussion, peace was restored, and both sides were ready to resume the debate. However, to prevent a recurrence of the chaos, the speaker did not allow Hon. Quinton to continue his speech but instead asked another MP to take the floor.
Despite appeals from the acting leader of government business, Hon. Bashiru Silikie of the SLPP, the speaker refused to let Hon. Quinton continue.
“…You squandered the privilege of continuing; he doesn’t deserve another…” declared the speaker, pointing out that Hon. Quinton had gone beyond the subject matter before the house.
The house was then adjourned for an hour to restore order. When the session resumed, the SLPP MPs, expressing dissatisfaction with the speaker’s decision, refused to continue the debate and asked that the APC MPs take the floor.
After a brief hiatus to address concerns with the SLPP MPs, the house reconvened, and the SLPP MPs were prepared to continue the debate. SEG/24/11/2023