The Secretary General of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party, Alhaji Foday Usman Yassaneh has told journalists at a presser that the party would not sign the draft report of the reviewed constitution, stating that the 80-man Constitutional Review Committee has violated its terms of reference.
Addressing journalists yesterday at their Old Railway line office, Mr Yansaneh, who doubles as the Chairman of the Research Committee at the CRC said the committee has not submitted to them the final report as stated in the terms of reference.
He said the CRC has made about 171 changes which they were not happy about, explaining that on October 1st , this year, the plenary presented to them the final draft report and that the said report itself was 700 pages, but the committee only provided them with the executive summary of about 300 pages.
“The act of appending a signature to a document means you have taken ownership of it. But how could you sign a document you haven’t taken ownership of?” he questioned.
“Obtaining the signatory of members after reading very scanty executive summary is a ruse. No member has seen or read what they called the final draft. This is an unfortunate ploy hence, concealed final report raises questions about the process because members had yearned for details that were not found in the executive summary.”
He said the scope of authority of the committee has to be known, as it was within the remit of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to do the draft bill and not the CRC.
He accused the CRC to have inputted voices that were not from the people, thus refusing to give them the raw data of the report to ascertain the fact.
Mr. Yasanneh emphasised that their contention was the ‘clandestine’ and ‘unpopular’ removal of the supreme executive and replacing it with chief executive, which he said did not come from the people.
He noted that the replacement of supreme executive authority with chief executive could mean over turning the decision of the Supreme Court, which had ruled in a land mark judgment that the president has the supreme authority to sack his vice president.
He said as long as the apex court gives ruling, it forms part of the laws of the country and that it is only the court that could overturn it.
He lamented that the CRC has refused several issues that the party presented in their position paper and that they cannot accept what didn’t form part of the views of the majority.
“The annotated district validation report we got from the CRC archive for Bonthe showed a blank space on the issue that the group had accepted the replacement of supreme executive with chief executive. That is why we said bring it and let us see for all the fourteen districts,” he said.
He said the APC has no intention to stall or manipulate the process but that they were yearning for transparency; otherwise they could have left the entire process in the hands of cabinet or parliament, which equally belong to the APC party.
“We want to take the interest of Sierra Leone above our individual interest and we want the process to be smooth. We could have left it with the cabinet because after the presentation of the draft, the cabinet will release what we called the white paper. We have no such intention. We wanted the people’s voice to be heard but if you write what the people had not said, then you have fraud the process. That is our contention,” he said.
He noted that the term of reference also required them to examine the constitutions of other countries, especially the best practice, which he said prompted them to view many other constitutions across the world and that all of them give the president supreme executive authority.
The erstwhile Ambassador to Ghana said Section 40 of the 1991 constitution, which gives the president the supreme authority has no basis for public consultation, but was injected into the debate by the CRC when they submitted the abridge report.
In July 30, 2013 President Ernest Bai Koroma launched the CRC with the mandate to review the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone together with the Peter Tucker Constitutional Review Commission Report (PTCR). It was expected that during the two – year process, the CRC would carried out extensive consultations within and outside Sierra Leone.