The Chief Whip House of Sierra Leone Parliament (HOP) has elaborated on the reasons why the HOP demanded for twenty more seats to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
It should be noted that the NEC has said that they will add twenty new constituencies thereby increasing the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) to one hundred and thirty two.
Abu Turay Executive Assistant to the Chief Electoral Commissioner NEC had said that although the process of boundary delimitation is technical and complex, they are using the latest census figures and Parliament has prescribed that the number of seats be 132.
The Chief Whip, Hon. Claude DM Kamanda in an exclusive interview commented that NEC wrote to Parliament on the number of seats which Parliament has the prerogative to tell NEC on the number of seats that Parliament can accommodate.
“We have one hundred and twenty four seats now but there are one hundred and twelve constituencies; mark you Paramount Chiefs do have twelve seats and with the trend that is moving the Paramount Chiefs have written to the CRC that they are steeping out of Parliament which is minus twelve seats already and so if Parliament is saying it needs one hundred and thirty two seats, it is just an addition of eight seats because there are already one hundred and twenty four seats in the House,” Hon. Claude Kamanda expounded.
There are concerns that Parliament should have waited for the final Statistics Sierra Leone census report and that of the CRC in order for them to have went ahead and request for more seats, this many people view with skepticism.
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The Chief Whip when asked why Parliament requested for these seats narrated that ‘it is not a request that come from Parliament. NEC wrote to Parliament quoting the relevant sections that Parliament has the authority to declare the number of seats and with that we declared the one hundred and thirty seats.’
When it was put to him that NEC had said that Parliament wrote to them requesting for more seats unlike what he explained, the Chief Whip said: “maybe the word requesting is the bottom-line but actually NEC wrote to Parliament.
As part of leadership we received the letter, we went to Room One and we agreed that we increase the seats from one hundred and twenty four to one hundred and thirty two.”
He argued that Parliament has the space and the population has increased from four million people plus at one hundred and twelve seats, noting that “why not increase seats when we are now above seven million people. The closer to the people, the more the people feel part of governance.
It is a matter of representation of the people. Government is about participation of the people, that’s all about governance.”
The Chief Whip went on to articulate that the HOP has the capacity and space for the increase seats.
He said: “we have space for one hundred and fifty MPs and even more, but we cannot call for one hundred and fifty at least we move with the trend, thinking about the socioeconomic situation, the population of the country and so on. Before 1996 the seats were sixty by 2007 the seats were now one hundred and twelve.”
He said that Parliament had taken the finance and logistics involved into consideration and said, at the NEC meeting the SLPP Chairman raised similar question as to why the APC is increasing the seats to one hundred and thirty two taking into consideration the economic situation and the like.
“I asked him the question, that when SLPP was in power why they did increase from sixty to one hundred and twelve seats and argued that it is not about APC or SLPP but in Parliament both parties sit and agreed that we need to add eight seats,” Hon Claude Kamanda said and underlined that the benefits of this seats increment to the populace.
The Chief Whip noted that: “the closer people feel they are part of governance, the more people will participate in governance.”