Chaotic scenes as Sierra Leone lawmakers brawl

A brawl broke out in Sierra Leone’s parliament in Freetown Wednesday November 23 as Members of Parliament (MPs) were in session.

They debated a proposed change to the electoral system to allow for proportional representation in next year’s election.

In video footage, representatives from the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party were seen fighting and throwing chairs.

The West African nation’s Electoral Commission advised switching to a proportional representation system for next year’s local and parliamentary elections excluding presidential polls. 

The opposition claims the move would be unconstitutional when the government backs the plan. However, for it to be passed, it requires parliamentary approval.

Lawmakers torn apart equipment and broke a vase.The fight erupted around 1100 GMT and had quieted down by afternoon.

According to local reports, the police intervened to calm down the riotous scene and expel disruptive MPs from the chamber.

The June 2023 vote will see President Julius Bio, who was first elected in 2018, contest a second term in office.

Last week, lawmakers passed legislation to introduce a gender quota in all elected and appointed positions ahead of next year’s election which had been a major campaign promise by the president in 2018.

It is no longer news, the series of legislative violence witnessed in the world’s Parliaments. A recent case in sight is that which happened in Ghana’s 7th Parliament on December 20 as parliamentarians exchanged blows during a late-night sitting over a controversial government-proposed levy on electronic transactions.

This is not the first time such an incident was happening in Ghana’s Parliament. A similar incident happened on December 1 over the approval of the 2022 budget. This time, the speaker’s chair was dragged from its position during the chaos.

Incidents like these raise the question of the extent to which a country’s legislative institution was functioning in line with its democratic ideals of being a venue for peaceful conflict resolutions.

There is a school of thought that says parliamentary brawls are more likely when legislators find it difficult to credibly commit to follow peaceful bargains, but is that always the case? –

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