By Jariatu S. Bangura…..
The Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Chernoh Bundu, has rejected two inter-related correspondences from the Coalition for Change (C4C) party attempting to change its parliamentary caucus leadership, and said he would continue to recognise the substantive leader, Hon. Emerson Saa Lamina, as the party’s foreman.
The tussle for parliamentary leadership came a day after the Chairman and Returning Officer of the National Electoral Commission; Mohamed K. Konneh, was approved in parliament in a tense debate. Half of the eight C4C parliamentarians including its leader, Hon. Lamina, supported the approval of the former.
“I will make it abundantly and categorically clear that I will discountenance the correspondences that I have received. I therefore continue to recognise Hon. Emerson Lamina as the leader of the C4C in Parliament,” the Speaker said on Thursday.
He said he had examined the correspondences that sought to change caucus executive and related it to the provisions in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, and the Standing Orders in Parliament, but couldn’t find any clause that would address the issue.
He added that Section 77 (1L) of the constitution could have been of help if the correspondences sought a removal of a Member of Parliament in case s/he seizes to be a member of that political party.
Section 77 (1 L): ‘a member of Parliament shall vacate his seat in parliament, (l) if by his conduct in Parliament by sitting and voting with members of a different party, the Speaker is satisfied after consultation with the Leader of that Member’s party that the Member is no longer a member of the political party under whose symbol he was elected to Parliament’
He said the correspondence received was signed by the Secretary General and not the Leader and Chairman of the C4C and even “if it were signed by the Leader, it would have been dealt with a moot point for now and will not indicate it with any actions for now,”
The Leader of the Coalition for Change C4C, Hon. Emerson Lamina, reacted to the correspondences and stated in a notice that the signatory of the memo that sought his replacement does not have the legal backing for such a decision.
“My attention has been drawn to two separate but related correspondences dated 29th July addressed to the Leader of government Business and Clerk of Parliament respectively. The contents of the said correspondences speak to the subject of my removal as Leader of C4C in Parliament…,” the notice said, adding “Let me from the outset state that, I, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina continues to be the legitimate and recognized Leader of C4C in Parliament. This is predicated on the fact that, the purported Secretary General who signed the correspondences does not possess the legal standing to do so”
He argued that the power to distribute MPs into Parliamentary Committees is reserved for the Selection Committee alone, as established in Standing Order 70 sub-section 1(b). He added that no political party has a say in how Committees are constituted in Parliament.
A letter signed by the Secretary General of the Coalition for Change C4C, Koighor Aloysious Foh, on 29 July addressed to the Clerk of Parliament, was a notification to his office that Hon. Francis Bendu will now be their Caucus Leader in Parliament, whilst Hon. Sahr Charles will serve as deputy Leader and Hon. Aiah Kasegbama would remain as Whip and will be deputized by Hon. Komba M. Kamanda.