In an interview on the popular 98.1 radio station breakfast show, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Frank Kargbo revealed that the process to review the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone is underway. He maintained that government is committed to see the process all the way to its final stage, which will be a national referendum to secure the approval of the people of Sierra Leone. There will be wide ranging consultations before this, involving all major stakeholders and representatives from a wide range of organizations in Sierra Leone. A commission is to be appointed to steer the process along, with an eminent Sierra Leonean as its chair.


This will be the second major attempt to reform the 1991 Constitution. In 2007 a commission was appointed by then-President Tejan Kabbah under the chairmanship of Dr Peter Tucker, a retired senior civil servant. It held wide-ranging consultations and came up with a comprehensive range of constitutional amendments. These included the establishment of a two-chamber parliament with a senate as an advisory body to the house of representatives. There were also modifications to the citizenship laws, which drew criticism from some Sierra Leoneans. The Peter Tucker proposals never got to the referendum stage, however, as the incoming APC government did not give the matter high priority. Read the 2007 Peter Tucker proposals here


In his address at the state opening of parliament in December last year, however, President Ernest Bai Koroma had this to say on the subject, In our second term, we will act to revamp the constitutional review process, open up the constitutional debate to many more people and a wider range of issues. Of great importance will be putting in place constitutional guarantees for overcoming the challenges of ethnic divide in the political life of the country. We will put the resulting draft constitution to a national referendum…. We will ensure a review of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone to ensure that it truly supports a true democracy thriving on a multi-party but inclusive system of government”


Later in the speech, in a single enigmatic sentence, President Ernest Koroma had this to say on the subject of the dual land tenure system in Sierra Leone, “We will work towards ensuring a more equitable, non-discriminatory and fairer land tenure system in the country.” Was the President signaling that he favours moving away from the dual land tenure system that has been fiercely criticized by particularly the Krios of the Western Area?  Could this be part of the planned constitutional revision? Only time will tell.