In his opening statement, the Country Representative of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), Mr. Mohamed Alpha Jalloh said parliament is a symbol of promoting democracy, enhancing human rights, stability and reducing poverty in Sierra Leone, adding that it is on this backdrop that this year’s celebration of International Democracy Day is geared to inspire MPs to imbibe in them the relevant attitude in every legislative process.
Jalloh said negotiation and consensus building is important in that the current parliament is the most diverse of our time, underscoring that no single party enjoys the majority seats of the House. He added that research had described such composition as a ‘hung-Parliament’, asserting that such a Parliament would effectively work where there is sincere and effective negotiation and consensus for legislative space. Political analyst and Lecturer at Fourah Bay College (FBC) Dr. Charles Silver said it is important to negotiate because the survival of any democracy depends on political party activities, He asserted that the success and failure of political parties affects not only the politicians but the country as a whole.
“Thus, when it comes to legislative issues in Sierra Leone we must be united through effective consensus,” he advised. Deputy Leader of Government Business in the House, Hon. Matthew Nyuma pledged to protect democracy by promoting democratic institutions for open dialogue and support good governance and policies, opining that MPs should always ensure to work within the recommendations of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, and the Parliamentary Standing Orders (SOs) if they want to effectively engage in consensus with one another.
“If we don’t negotiate, we are going to fail our country and constituents”, he said and recommended that in order to advance democracy through effective negotiation and consensus-building in parliament, MPs should put Sierra Leone first in all legislative processes, support good policies, take their oversight functions seriously, and develop policies that would benefit every Sierra Leonean. Other MPs, who spoke on the theme, welcomed the initiatives from WFD and pleaded for more dialogue forums to enhance their democratic roles in the legislative process.