Stripped off her seat despite polling 63.21% of valid votes cast… Elected Female MP Cries Bitterly for Justice
Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura, All Peoples Congress (APC) elected female Member of Parliament of Constituency 116 around Portee axis in the east end part of the capital Freetown has wept bitterly whilst calling for justice to prevail after her representation as MP of Constituency 116 was removed by an High Court ruling which at the same time replaced her with a male named Emmanuel Sahr Gbekie representing the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples party (SLPP).
Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura who last week took to social media posting her defense against what she felt was an unfair decision from the judiciary of Sierra Leone wept bitterly whilst talking to DE MIRROR NEWSPAPER yesterday claiming that she has been left in the cold by most women advocacy groups as Sierra Leone still struggles to empower it women in the country.
Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura said she polled a total of 15,884 (fifteen thousand eight hundred and eighty four votes), representing 63.21% of valid votes casts, but that she was “thrown out of parliament on the erroneous submission to the court that I have been receiving salary from the consolidated fund up to 23rd April, 2018 against the laws guiding elections.” The law of Sierra Leone states that civil servants wanting to contest for elected positions must resign a year before the elections. However, in the case of Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura she resigned more than a year before the March 2018 Parliamentary Elections and a letter from her then office the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) which is produced in this edition confirmed that Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura last collected salaries in February 2017.
Against that, Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura asked “Why should somebody be so cruel to destroy my determination and the people's mandate to represent them and give the leadership we deserve? Do I deserve a bad reputation nationally and internationally for choosing to serve my constituency and the people of this country more especially the women? Justice is all I can do now trusting that God will intervene on our behalf. Let us all cry to our God who sees the dark and secret things of man to grant us the truth,” she cries.
Meanwhile, the Carter Center report on the March 28th 2018 general elections in Sierra Leone states: “Inclusion of women candidates in the electoral process was particularly low. Only two of the presidential candidates were women (12 percent) and four vice presidential candidates were women, which marked an improvement from the 2012 elections, when no women contested the presidential elections. One hundred women ran for parliamentary seats, a mere 12.5 percent of all candidates, which was the same percentage of women that competed in the 2012 elections and was slightly lower than the percentage of female MPs in the outgoing parliament.”
The report furthered that: “Of the five parties that nominated more than 100 candidates, the NGC and APC nominated the most women, 13 percent. Eight women candidates ran independently, making up 19 percent of all independent candidates. Some women ran as independents after parties withdrew their nominations subsequent to the submission of the party list to the NEC. Women aspirants reported that there is limited opportunity for women to find a place in the main parties, which are the main source of campaign funds,” adding that “the low number of women nominees was a critical shortcoming for the 2018 elections and reflected a lack of genuine political will to bring more women into the political sphere. It failed to contribute to the aim of 30 percent representation for women in the national legislative body, a widely used international benchmark, albeit one still far short of the international obligation for equitable representation of women and de facto political equality.”
Therefore the Carter Center “strongly encourages the adoption of legislation, and ideally a constitutional amendment, that includes provisions that will bring about women’s equal participation in politics. In this respect, adoption of the long-awaited Gender Equality Bill that guarantees women’s equal political participation is encouraged.”
However, despite the statistics and warnings by the Carter Centre, women are still being discriminated against in Sierra Leone Politics and a typical example is the removal of Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura and her subsequent replacement by a male who came second in her election. Stripped off her seat despite polling 63.21% of valid votes cast, one of the highest in the capital Freetown, Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura still believes that she has much to offer and then called for justice to prevail in her circumstance.
Meanwhile, Hon. Hariyatu Ariana Bangura has already appealed the decision of the High Court to remove her and replaced by another to the country’s Appeals Court but her appeal has still yet not been heard. Whilst her appeal is yet to be heard, the Speaker of Parliament of Sierra Leone, Hon. Dr Abass Bundu has already sworn in Emmanuel Sahr Gbekie as new MP for Constituency 116, despite the latter not having the majority of votes and the duly elected MP’s appeal is yet to be decided in the Country’s Appeals Court.