146th IPU Assembly: Sierra Leone’s Speaker Throws Light on President Bio’s Remarkable Legislative Reforms

13th March 2023
Manama, Bahrain

The Honourable Speaker of the House of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Abass Chernoh Bundu has acclaimed the remarkable legislative reforms undertaken by His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio during the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) convened in Manama, the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The Honourable Speaker led a three-man delegation from Sierra Leone’s Legislature to participate in this year’s Assembly on the theme: “Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance”.

In his remarks, Dr Abass Bundu spoke about the rich religious tolerance in the country, describing Sierra Leone as the brightest beacon of hope, the unsung epitome and the gold standard to emulate and judge the effectiveness of religious tolerance for the rest of the world, citing intermarriages between Christians and Muslims as a norm, which was not the case in other countries.

He also mentioned that the country’s level of resilience, tolerance, cohesion and integration was symbolized by the enactment of the Public Elections Act and the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act (GEWE), adding that both laws set out legal minimums for the representation and participation of women in the Legislature as well as in the public and private sectors.

“By the enactment of the Public Elections Act, the aim is to increase women’s representation in the Legislature from the present paltry level of just under 13% in the Fifth Parliament to a minimum of 30% in the 6th Parliament to be ushered into existence after the General Elections due on June 24 this year and applying for that purpose a system of proportional representation. It contains a legal prescription obligating political parties in a general election to ensure that “for every 3 candidates nominated for an electoral area, one of them shall be female,” the Hon. Speaker stated.

He disclosed that, at the Executive level, the GEWE Act introduced a monumental milestone for advancement towards the attainment of gender parity and inclusion in the not-too-distant future but starting first with a 30% quota for each gender in such appointive positions in the public sector as Ministers, Ambassadors, Boards of parastatals and institutions that were fully or partially funded by Government of Sierra Leone.

“Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates, the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio is currently on the right trajectory, and, considering that women account for 51% of the population, the current Executive, with the collaboration of the Legislature, is putting them at the centre of its avowed determination to promote and build a comprehensive and resilient national culture of respect for gender equality and women empowerment,” he reaffirmed.

He said, “Exponentially, 2022 will go down in history as the watershed year in which the Government of Sierra Leone moved from the rhetoric to positive legislative action. What remains in the journey ahead is no less timorous, arduous and daunting but, if the momentum established in 2022 is sustained, there is no doubting the determination of the Bio Government to forge ahead to reach the desired goal.”

Concluding, the Honourable Speaker referenced the statement made by President Dr Julius Maada Bio at the General Debate of the 5th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries held in Doha, Qatar on 5th March 2023, which reiterated his government’s commitment to prioritising interventions that address vulnerabilities and exclusion among women, girls, youth, the aged and the disabled and scale up radical inclusion, financial inclusion, skills development and job creation, and continue to pursue National Social Protection Policy.

The IPU facilitates parliamentary diplomacy and empowers parliaments and parliamentarians to promote peace, democracy and sustainable development worldwide. IPU’s strategic objectives aim to make parliaments more effective, representative and innovative so that they can take action to improve people’s lives in the following policy areas: climate change; democracy, human rights, gender equality; and youth participation; peace and security; and sustainable development for all. It provides a platform for delegates to deliberate, exchange views and galvanise parliamentary action in these areas.

Cyril Barnes,
Information Attaché,
Sierra Leone Embassy, the State of Kuwait
Email: information.attache@kw.slembassy.gov.sl

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