The Parliament of Sierra Leone Thursday 3rd October 2019, made public the 2019 Bo Declaration which contains a set of resolutions arrived at by different leaders of political parties in Parliament concerning issues of governance and the proper functionality of the Parliament. The Declaration according to the Clerk of Parliament, Paran Tarawally was the outcome of a 3-day retreat; 26th-28th August 2019 in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone, where different stakeholders in Parliament gathered to discuss the development of democracy in the country’s only law making house. One of the resolutions was that Parliament should “set the basis for a new way of consultation that promotes sincere and sustained dialogue”. The Clerk of Parliament, in his presentation accepted that “the current Standing Orders did not support the present political context, hence a source of disagreement and tension between and among political parties in Parliament”. According to the preamble of the Declaration, the leadership of the Sierra Leone Parliament was convinced that addressing political and administrative acrimony would promote the smooth, effective and efficient running of Parliament.
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During the Bo retreat, different political stakeholders acknowledged that the gains made in moving Parliament forward were reversed and derailed by the unwillingness of different leaderships to consult, cooperate and coordinate with one another on pertinent issues. “Therefore affirming our commitment to work together in promoting political dialogue, peace, cohesiveness and consensus building in the legislative process,” the declaration noted. Other points of concession in the Bo Declaration stated that Parliament:
- Consult on all critical issues pertaining to the promotion of parliamentary democracy in Sierra Leone;
- Agree to disagree and using the right channels and processes to ensure we keep to the dictates of Parliament;
- To set the basis for a new way of consultation that promotes sincere and sustained dialogue.
The Declaration further made provisions for the administration of Parliament to adhere to uphold Parliamentary procedures in running the Business of the House. Further agreements in the Declaration stated that the Leadership of Parliament and other authorities should “ensure that the Business Committee meets to discuss the business of the House in line with the provisions of the Constitution of Sierra Leone and the Standing Orders”. Another recommendation was that Parliament should ensure that the Standing Orders Committee engages Members of Parliament and staff to identify critical areas in the Standing Orders that require immediate review. Parliamentary authorities should also uphold the rules governing the composition and ensure that the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Parliamentary Service Act be reviewed in line with operations of Committees of Parliament; that the PSC meets regularly for the dispatch of its functions. The Bo Declaration was signed by all the Leaders of political parties in Parliament and other stakeholders like the Speaker and Clerk of Parliament, but will later be tabled in the Well of Parliament for its ratification.
By Abdulai Gbla
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