Bintumani Conference Centre, Freetown, Wednesday 1 November 2023 – Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister, Dr David Moinina Sengeh, has officially launched the African Peer Review Mechanism’s, APRM, Targeted Review Report on Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Sierra Leone, saying that those changes hinder socio-economic development.
The Chief Minister also launched the APRM’s Bi-annual Report on Governance Mechanisms for the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 with special focus on Aspiration 3 and SDG16.
Ambassador Princess Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika, APRM’s Lead Panel member for Sierra Leone, said the country had consistently featured among the top-performing Member States with a consistent demonstration of its ability to face challenges, build on its distinctive capacities and embrace the future with enthusiasm, hope and faith, adding that those characteristics had proven necessary in the life of nations and leaders that aspired to offer the best to their citizens.
“Under President Julius Maada Bio’s leadership, Sierra Leone, the government and its people need to be commended. The targeted review is indicative of the renewed commitment to the impressive journey the APRM has had with the Republic of Sierra Leone,” she said.
She said APRM applauded Sierra Leone for the identified good practices, which could be shared with other APRM member states, and those included the recognition and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, the review of the constitutionality of laws, the control of constitutional amendments and institutions supporting constitutional democracy and accountability.
“Sierra Leone has developed a set of institutions and guiding principles through which the nation’s fundamental decisions are made over an extended period. One such commendable practices relates to the abolition of the death penalty, which is internationally viewed as a significant achievement in promoting constitutionalism and the rule of law as a result of a recent review of the nation’s constitution,” she noted.
Minister of Public Administration and Political Affairs, who also doubles as the APRM National Focal Point for Sierra Leone, Amara Kallon, said there were enablers to unconstitutional changes of governance, noting that Sierra Leone had survived several military coups, shocks and disasters. He added that the country stood on a very good footing to contribute to peace within Africa.
“Sierra Leone has conducted five democratic elections and subsequently done peaceful exchanges of power. So, the recommendations of the Targeted Review Report on Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Sierra Leone will be the agenda for deliberation,” he said.
Prof. Eddy Maloka, Chief Executive Officer of APRM’s Continental Secretariat, encouraged the government of Sierra Leone to implement the recommendations of the Targeted Review Report on Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Sierra Leone.
He thanked President Bio for the leadership he had continued to give to the APRM, adding that that was a great way of leading from the front.
Sierra Leone’s APRM Executive Secretary, Mohamed Sheshu Sheriff, said the report offered practical recommendations that were reflective of a collective effort from the African peers.
“The launch of this report is not only an occasion to celebrate our achievements but it is also a way to chat forward our challenges,” he noted.
Chief Minister, Dr Sengeh, said any unconstitutional changes of government in a country like Sierra Leone would hinder socio-economic development and hold back the progress that the country had made.
“Sierra Leone is committed to development, peace and democracy. Several consultations were held during the review process. We are committed to preventing unconstitutional changes of government in Sierra Leone and Africa,” he said.
He said the Targeted Review Report was a catalyst for action, adding that he would ensure that the report was disseminated widely.
“We are committed to implementing the recommendations of the report. We have already started to work on some of the recommendations, particularly in a dialogue and the constitutional review. We have just held a dialogue with the main opposition All People’s Congress after the 2023 elections. The review of our national constitution is ongoing,” he explained, assuring that they would implement the other recommendations in accordance with the laws of the country.
He said the government was expediting judicial and justice sector reforms, which would automatically expedite trials and judgments and subsequently lead to the decongestion of the country’s correctional centers.
“For the first time in Sierra Leone, the government established the National Elections Trust Fund to fund the 2023 general elections. There is a minimum of 30% women representation in governance. Plans are underway to establish a committee to review the elections management bodies, which was one of the outcomes of the three-day peace dialogue with the main opposition,” he told his audience.
He said the government had also expunged the seditious libel law that used to criminalise free speech and stifle journalism, adding that government would continue to support free press.
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