The Sierra Leone Parliament on the 4th October unveiled the Parliament of Sierra Leone (POSL) mobile app, an innovation conceived by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD). According to the Clerk of Parliament Paran Tarawally, “one of the greatest thing that has happened to the Parliament of Sierra Leone is the parliamentary app,” which he said would report the Sierra Leone Parliament to everybody, whether they come to Parliament or not. “Today we are talking about openness and for us as a Parliament, openness means to share information. It equally means to make ourselves accessible and accountable in our action and activities to the people,” Tarawally Noted. He furthered that Sierra Leone was recently ranked second in the OGP process and the reason for that was because the OGP process had not included the Sierra Leone Parliament. According to Tarawally, Georgia was ranked 1st because its parliament was the most open Parliament according to the OGP report.
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The Sierra Leone Parliament app has features like, information about the Sierra Leone Parliament, parliamentary Standing Orders, the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, Votes and Proceedings of different sittings, bills that have been ratified in Parliament, profiles of all MPs and Paramount Chief MPs, including their telephone contacts for one-to-one communication with their constituents, live streaming of parliamentary proceedings and an access for viewers to send in their response to issues on the activities of their representatives among others. The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Simon Mustard described the launch of the parliamentary app as important and ground breaking. “Openness, transparency and accountability are important in governance, but would be more important when put into action,” Ambassador Mustard pointed out. He added the unveiling and usage of the Sierra Leone Parliament app would serve as a testament to everyone’s work in making Parliament transparent and even more accessible and would subsequently promote good government. The Country Director for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), Mohamed Jalloh said an open parliament could only be achieved with active citizens’ participation. He added that was why the theme for the app launch “Participation beyond the Ballot Box” was one that resonated with 2019’s participation theme in the International Democracy Day. “To the universities and schools, this initiative will make parliament to be in your palms and with the click of your phones, you will be able to access information about parliament for research purposes,” Jalloh stated. He said however, that the app was at its embryonic stage and “cannot address all the concerns the users might have in terms of technological versatilities” but that it was a good beginning in making the Sierra Leone Parliament open as other advanced parliaments in the world.
By Abdulai Gbla
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