A Banana Democracy Begets A Banana Republic: Sierra Leone Parliament Should Make the Abortion Bill Law

Posted by Jeneba Project on Saturday, March 12, 2016

Photo: Wikipedia

It is as my brother Alpha Blondy has said, La démocratie bananière pour les républiques bananières, banana democracy for banana republics. When a president refuses to sign a bill unanimously passed by parliament and returns it with a recommendation for a referendum, one can only imagine what our government’s understanding of Montesquian democracy would be. Perhaps in the future a minimum amount of civic education should be required of individuals aspiring to public office in Sierra Leone.

Lend me your ears for a moment, lest I get accused of employing jargons without explanation. A democratic government is founded on a social contract between the people and their leaders.  Montesquian separation of powers requires a partition of such contracted powers between the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature. I will spare you the details, but the people of Sierra Leone elected their parliamentarians with a responsibility to make the laws of the land. That same parliament has acted unanimously and enacted a Safe Abortion Bill to protect the health of its citizens. The president retains a constitutional right to veto the bill, if he must, but to circumvent lawmakers and ask for a referendum is unconstitutional.  What is the use of parliament if laws must be returned to all six million Sierra Leoneans for approval? Now, here is where a lesson in constitutionalism and Montesquian separation of powers would have saved our president from another error in Government 101.

Where the president has failed to sign a unanimous bill, parliament should perform its duty and make the bill law, for that is what the people of Sierra Leone elected you to do. We are rated daily in the international community by the poverty and decadence of our society; we cannot constantly retrogress even as we strive to move forward. Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, our daughters and sisters are getting impregnated even before they can properly spell their names, others are dying daily under the incompetent hands of backroom doctors in their efforts to illegally terminate unwanted pregnancies; what do we lose by making safe what is already a prevalent deadly practice? Let’s not forget that this is a government that less than a week ago its own ministers were trading insults and accusations of rape. “You dae rape boku uman dem nar ya!” A Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs accused the Minister of said ministry.

What the president’s recommendation insinuates is that we should eliminate the legislature and return to the public square where we ask citizens to make their own laws.  Well, let me remind the president that it was not the need for presidents that led to the formation of government; it was the need for order. Where institutions exist to direct our path on the route of progressive governance, we cannot sustain improvised rulership. When an elected parliament speaks, it is the voice of the people, loud and clear; otherwise what voice do they have? 

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KATEHUN KATEHUN (pronounced Ka-te-hun)-is a Mende word for a symposium or community center where disputes are settled. Everyone is permitted to make his/her case before a presiding chief in an open forum. On this forum, I write primarily for those who stand committed to the Rule of Law in Africa and to the value that our future is better determined by the government of the people, by the people, and in service for the people. To advance the African value of Ubuntu through International Law and the Principles of a United Nations, which propels us towards Life in Larger Freedom.
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