Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has called for “unity” and “dialogue” to overcome deep divisions over the June 24 disputed elections, at the official opening of the new National Assembly boycotted by the government.
“In this Parliament where no party has reached a two-thirds majority, the need for dialogue and negotiation resounds with the utmost urgency. We must find common ground across political divides,” said the president re-elected at the end of June, in the first round, for a second term.
The opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) decided “on its non-participation at any level of governance, including the legislature and local councils, judging the results of the presidential, legislative and local elections ” rigged” for the benefit of President Bio and his party. Only one of the 54 opposition deputies was in the hemicycle on Thursday morning.
With its 81 seats, the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) only has a majority of 54% of the vote. Even with the expected support of the 14 traditional chiefs sitting in parliament, it would fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass certain types of legislation, such as constitutional amendments or electing the speaker of parliament.
But it is not certain that members of the APC who have not taken the oath are taken into account in these cases.
President Bio assured that MPs should seek “to put the interest of the nation first, transcend partisan lines and forge alliances beyond political affiliations”.
In addition to “statistical inconsistencies”, international observers condemned the “lack of transparency” in the vote count after the June elections.
President Bio admitted on Thursday “logistical limits” during these elections. He announced the creation of a committee comprising members of government, civil society and development agencies to review the management of the electoral process and make recommendations.
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