His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio today delivered his state opening address to Parliament, outlining efforts at building on democracy, proposing reviews to electoral systems and calling on the nation to promote cohesion in politics.
“This Sixth Parliament presents an opportunity to showcase the maturity of our democracy. Any political party’s absence of a two-thirds majority necessitates constant engagement, encouraging us to amplify all voices and engenders a more harmonious, stable, and prosperous Sierra Leone. By fostering collaboration, cooperation, and negotiation, we can transcend political divides for the ultimate benefit of our people.
“In this very Parliament, where no party has attained a two-thirds majority, the need for dialogue and negotiation resonates with utmost urgency. We must find common ground within the political divides. Through unity, we can achieve stability, progress, and prosperity in our democracy.
“Let us not forget that the true holders of power in a democracy are the people we represent. We must always remember their voices, aspirations, and hopes for a better future in every debate and conflict,” he urged.
The President called on other national leaders to put the nation’s interest first, transcending party lines, and forging alliances beyond political affiliations, adding that it was the duty of Parliamentarians to embody the spirit of statesmanship and seek dialogue and common goals, even in the face of differing opinions.
“Let us never take the peace and stability we currently enjoy for granted. Look around us, both on our continent and worldwide, and we witness the devastating consequences that unfold when political actors fail to resolve their differences with maturity and respect for the law.
“It falls upon our shoulders to safeguard this democracy, to support our citizens as we propel the economy forward, and to create a safe and stable atmosphere where every Sierra Leonean can flourish, holding their heads high with pride on the global stage.
President Bio also recalled that the June 24 multi-tier elections identified some logistical limitations that were, however, assessed as not negatively impacting the overall outcome of the elections. He noted the need to improve Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone, ECSL’s continued planning and conduct of transparent and fair elections.
“A National Electoral Systems Review Committee will be established to assess the planning and management of the 2023 electoral cycle…to review the prevailing legal framework, related institutional and operational arrangements, and local and international observer missions’ reports; and to propose key reforms for institutionalising the recommendations to enhance the operations of the entire electoral architecture in Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that the Committee would have a broad membership that would eventually produce a report to lay the foundation for critical reforms in the electioneering process with reference to the ECSL and all other elections management bodies in the country.
“Gratitude must be extended to our security forces, judiciary, media and Civil Society. They have been pillars of strength in advancing the cause of democracy in Sierra Leone. I pledge to uphold their independence, for there can be no democracy without the rule of law, no democracy without security, and no democracy without a free press that informs, educates and holds public officeholders accountable.
“As we embark on this shared journey, let us move forward with optimism and determination. May God’s blessings be upon every one of us, and may His divine guidance bless the Republic of Sierra Leone,” he ended.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Republic of Sierra Leone State House.