The Speaker of Parliament Justice Nathaniel Abel Stronge yesterday stated in the well of Parliament that the honorary title that was awarded to the Libyan Leader Col. Muammar Gaddaffi is not sacrosanct since it was not endorsed by the House of Parliament.
The Speaker also said that the title was a proposal that was made by the former Majority Leader in Parliament Hon. Eddie Turay during the visit of Gaddafi sometime in January 2009, but that it never went through Parliamentary procedures for endorsement.
The statement was orchestrated by a concern raised by Hon. Eric Jumu, an SLPP Member of Parliament about the situation of Sierra Leoneans in Libya in relation to the present political impasse. This was responded to by Hon. Manley Betts-Priddy of the APC who otherwise suggested that the title once awarded to Gaddafi should be disregarded considering the fact that he has failed to protect the dignity and rights of his fellow Libyans as evident in his stance in the present crisis.
It was at this juncture that the Speaker affirmatively corrected the titular imbroglio in relation to the Libyan Leader and the House of Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Hon. Priddy said that awarding Gaddafi an honorary title in Sierra Leone’s House of Legislature would have been a complete violation of the Standing Orders of the House of Parliament if it would have been successful.
Over the telephone Justice Abel Nathaniel Stronge Speaker of Parliament reiterated that “it was not the right thing.”
It will be recalled that on New Year’s Day, 1st January 2009 parliament was summoned to welcome the visiting Libyan Leader Col. Gaddafi.
At the end part of his unusually flowery welcome speech the then Leader of the House Hon. Eddie Turay said “with leave of the Hon. Speaker and leave from the Honourable Members of Parliament and with your own concurrence Mr Leader I move that this house assembled here today the first day of January 2009 nominate Col. Muamar Al Gaddafi as Honourary Member of the Sierra Leone Parliament.” He then proceeded to ask “all those in favour say Aye” and without asking for those not in favour he proceeded to say “The Ayes have it.” After this he then approached the podium to present what he called the badge of the Sierra Leone parliament which he handed over to the Speaker who assisted by the then State Chief of Protocol pinned the small flag on Col. Gaddafi’s chest.
Speaker Abel Stronge explained over the telephone to Awoko that the procedure was wrong and that the right procedure should the Speaker who is Chairing the particular Parliamentary sitting who should put the question to the House. In this case he said it was the Leader of the House who had put the question to the members and that procedure was wrong. Questioned why it was only now being pointed out when the action by then had received a thunderous acclamation the Speaker answered that even if the acclamation had been “tumultuous” it was not the right procedure and that the hansards of Parliament could be consulted to prove that the procedure adopted then was wrong.
Observers however say that Gaddafi is now being abandoned by those who had sought to court his generous friendship.
By Poindexter Sama