• July 21, 2023

Mohamed Bangura: Champion For Democracy or APC Sell-Out?

Mohamed Bangura:  Champion For Democracy or APC Sell-Out?
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Depending on who you talk to Hon Mohamed Bangura of the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) is either a champion of the democratic or constitutional order, or he is the epitome of a sell-out. Irate APC supporters told FORUMNEWS-SL.COM that: ‘If you look for the word “sell-out” in the latest edition of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, you will see Mohamed Bangura’s face as representative of the word!’

The Honourable MP (Member of Parliament) has been accused of doing the dishonourable thing by falling out with the APC party at a time when unity or a singleness of purpose is needed more than at any other time in the history of the party.

The embattled APC MP from Karene District it has been said is caught between a rock and a hard place. Should the APC take disciplinary actions against him as per the party and the national constitutions, this would result in him having to leave and vacate his seat in the House of Parliament.

The governing Sierra Leone People’s Party – SLPP it is believed cannot protect Bangura in any way, shape or form that can change things up at Tower Hill or convince the APC to back off from its stance not to participate in what they largely consider as an ‘illegitimate government’.

The only way out for Bangura according to sources is for him to either join the rest of the party in the boycott or risk getting booted out of parliament. The caveat here is that time is not in his favour as the APC is out to set a strong disciplinary example that would deter others in the future from such unpartisan activities.

According to many in the APC, Bangura was selected by the party to contest for the Karene District MP seat; therefore, according to the PR system, the people elected the APC not Bangura to parliament. Therefore, when the party decided on a universal action such as a boycott, he was expected to play ball. The party said Bangura claiming to come to parliament to honour the people that voted for him can only be translated to mean that he puts the interest of the 11.9 per cent or 33,000 threshold voters that voted for him over the rest of the million plus that voted for the party generally.

Bangura remains the lone APC MP out of 54 that were elected including 215 Councillors from across the country that defied an APC National Advisory Committee – NAC’s call for all elected members not to participate in the governance of the state under the recently declared winner of the presidential elections, Julius Maada Bio. His refusal to honour this partisan decision has resulted to Bangura bringing the party’s name, image, integrity and most importantly its unity into disrepute. At a time when unity is essential, one man has decided to break the party’s mould.

In a presser from the APC, the party said its NAC has advised the Disciplinary Committee to institute strong disciplinary actions against Bangura. The expected outcome of this strong action according to sources is that Bangura will be suspended or kicked out of the party, either of which action would mean he has to step down from parliament.

According to section 77K of the National Constitution and Article 6 of the 2022 APC Constitution, any MP that is sacked from a party, ceases to be a Member of Parliament. No one can enter parliament except either as a party member or an independent candidate. Since he entered parliament via the APC party, Bangura cannot be allowed to cross over to the SLPP in the hope of keeping his seat.

It would seem as if the SLPP’s promise to protect Bangura in and out of the House is just a promise because should APC take its strong action against Bangura, then the SLPP will truly be the only party in the government. The 14 paramount chiefs would have become the official opposition in parliament.

This is not what the SLPP wants as the House of Parliament would not get two thirds majority to pass any laws. Meanwhile, any laws or legal instruments passed by such a parliament would lack the high moral or ethical standing as laws passed by a fully participatory parliament of opposition parties and a national party government. Anything passed between now and 2028 will be seen as rubberstamped. This is not the legacy we believe President Bio had in mind when he was penning his legacy project.

As it stands, apart from Mohamed Bangura, the House of Parliament needs three more MPs from the APC for it to get 2/3rds majority to pass the laws it hopes to pass this term in an effort to make government run smoothly or without hindrance.

‘This is what the SLPP is hoping on. They are hoping to use Mohamed Bangura’s stance to convince other APC MPs to join him in parliament and so kill the APC boycott. Remember many of the re-elected APC MPs and others had to foot or pay for their own political campaigns. What will become of them? Would they not be allowed to reconcile what they had spent during the electioneering processes?’

‘The rumour that Jagaban and some people from the diaspora will pay the APC MPs and Councillors is ridiculous. Can they pay the expected Le30 million per month for 53 MPs and the salaries of 215 Councillors for five years? How about their wardrobes, assistants and other needs? At the end of five years will these people in the diaspora and Jagaban be able to give $50,000 to any MP that failed to be re-elected into the Seventh Parliament? This situation with Bangura puts the party in a very difficult position. Going it alone has really shown that there is no unity in the APC party,’ according to our sources in the ruling party.

However, despite threats to his person and disciplinary actions from the APC, the MP from Karene District subscribed to the oath of office and became part of the Sixth Parliament of the Second Republic. He based his appearance on an advice by the US embassy for elected MPs to take part in government to represent the people that voted to elect them. Staying out of governance they claimed is a disservice to those that voted for them to represent their interests in government.

For his troubles, Bangura said he has been under constant threat of danger to his life and property. Personally, he has been insulted in so many ways with people reportedly baying for his blood. Recently images of his wife in various stages of either getting inebriated or partying in the UK with captions calling her a prostitute were blasted all over social media.

Despite saying that he had a talk with the APC’s former leader and chairman, ex-president Ernest Bai Koroma with regards his decision (and for which EBK reportedly gave him an open-ended advice), Bangura continues to face backlash from all corners of the country because of his refusal to join the APC in their boycott of government. To say that Bangura is concerned about his welfare would be an understatement.

Bangura’s case therefore presents the state of our current debacle in national governance: in whose interest are our elected officials acting, the people and country, or the party’s?

On one hand Bangura seems a champion of democracy and the need for dialogue. He came to parliament to convince the APC to see need for dialogue, even if it means going to the courts he cited as the only institution that can guarantee a rerun of the disputed presidential election. On the other hand, he is being seen as a double-crosser that should not be trusted as he can break faith with people or the party.

Regardless of how he is viewed Bangura’s decision to singlehandedly boycott the APC boycott of President Bio’s second term government has presented a serious test case for unpartisan activities in parliament, which in turn presents yet another opportunity for the National Constitution to either be strengthened or left at a disadvantage to the very people whose interests it is meant to uphold. Lonta!

Credit: Jerry Saccoh Kai-Lewis

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