President Ernest Bai Koroma has revealed that the "Referendum itself" on the proposed new National Constitution for Sierra Leone, following the submission of the Report of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) to President Koroma by the CRC Chairman Justice Edmond Cowan on Tuesday January 24, 2017 "is a process and the Cabinet Sub Committee (which has been considering the CRC recommendations under the Chairmanship of the Learned Attorney General & Minister of Justice Honourable Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara), has made certain proposals which are now before the full Cabinet for consideration.
"The Cabinet will soon present to the public a Government White Paper" based on which the Legal Draftsmen in the Law Officers Department will prepare the Amendment Bill to the 1991 Constitution for Parliament to debate and enact into Law with a two-thirds majority of all the Members of Parliament, to be followed by the National Referendum.
President Koroma is "the Guardian of the Constitution", reference section (40) subsection (c) of the 1991 Constitution.
President Koroma was responding to a question at a special decoration and press conference ceremony at State House in Freetown Monday July 31, 2017, on the second day of the two-day official visit to Sierra Leone by the President of La Cote D'Ivoire Alassane Quattarra, "whether his time line end of September, 2017" for the conduct of a National Referendum for the proposed new Constitution for Sierra Leone still stand,
President Koroma on February 14, 2017, in announcing the date for the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections, added that the Referendum on the Revised Constitution would be held "before the end of September, 2017,
President Koroma pointed out, however, that "from the look of things we are pressed for time and the final decision will be left with Parliament. " which date for dissolution is 7th December, 2017, according to the time table of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) published on 19th July, 2017 for the conduct of the March 7, 2018 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections.
President Koroma added "we still have enough time." He emphsised that "the issues to be included in the Government White Paper -are not controversial and the time limit for the Presidency (which is two five-year terms as stated in the 1991 Constitution) has not been changed."
Highlights of other CRC recommendations include "the election of the President, Parliament, and Local Government should be held on the SAME DAY and an amendment is therefore to be made to the relevant sections of Chapter IV of the 1991 Constitution (Representation of the People).
"The Proviso to section 43 is to be amended to add a new paragraph that sets a FIXED DATE FOR THE INAUGURATION of the elected President to ensure that there is no vacuum of power during and after the election."
The CRC has "Proposed Impeachment Procedure" through Parliament for the removal from office of both the President and Vice President in accordance with sections 50 and 51 of the 1991 Constitution and that a Tribunal be established to investigate allegations made against the President or Vice President.
A Tribunal shall be appointed to enquire into any matter and make a report WITHIN NINETY DAYS to the Speaker of Parliament stating the opinion of the Tribunal whether or not the President is by reason of any infirmity of mind or body, incapable of discharging the functions conferred on the President by the Constitution.
CRC has also recommended that "Loss of Party membership shall not nullify (invalidate or disqualify) from office a sitting President or Vice President, provided that in the case of party membership, section 51 (of the 1991 Constitution) procedure will follow."
"The position of Minister of Justice & Attorney General should be separated, and the holder of the office of Attorney General must be a Sierra Leonean who shall be the Principal Adviser to the Government", and to raise the age of retirement from 65 to 70 years.
The CRC has suggested a preamble for the Revised Constitution - "We the people of Sierra Leone, Recognise the brutal wars, injustices and agony of the past; Honour those who have died in defence of the Unity and Freedom of our Land; Respect those who have worked tirelessly to build and develop the Country and Resolve never again to fight and destroy our Motherland; We therefore adopt this Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land so as to heal the pains of our brutal past and establish a society that is based on democratic values, the Rule of Law, Peace and Justice, Religious Tolerance, Social Cohesion, Unity in Diversity and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. No other Law should conflict with it; nor should any person or Institution do anything to violate it. We do this for posterity and for the Land that we love. May God bless our Sierra Leone."
The CRC reviewed the 1991 multi party Republican Constitution of Sierra Leone.from July 30, 2013 and the review exercise is a joint project by both the Sierra Leone Government and the International Community represented here by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), on which the amount of 4.1 (four point one) million US Dollars was spent, partly funded by the Sierra Leone Government and partly the UNDP..
Making a statement after decorating the President of La Cote D'Ivoire Alassane Quattarra with the highest insignia that the State can confer on another Head of State - GCOR - Grand Commander of the Order of the Republic - according to the citation "in recognition of his contribution in strengthening excellent bilateral relations between La Cote D'Ivoire and Sierra Leone and in his relentless effort in fostering cooperation and collaboration at multilateral level between ECOWAS , AU and MRU", President Ernest Bai Koroma informed his guest, as he put it, " in the next two to three months there will be big activities in Sierra Leone - that will culminate in the conduct of the March 7, 2018 General Elections", namely, the election/selection of the Presidential Flagbearers of the registered political parties.
President Koroma said that he is "committed to ensure that the activitiies will be conducted in a peaceful manner".