The United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Bryan D. Hunt, held a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament, Abass Chernor Bundu, to discuss key bilateral issues and the Opposition’s role in governance. The discussion centered on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact’s progress and plans for a dialogue with the Opposition, set to begin on October 16, 2023.

Ambassador Hunt also shed light on the way forward for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact, confirming that the MCC was on the right track. He revealed that a team had recently engaged with President Bio’s government to determine the necessary steps for advancing towards the successful approval of the MCC Compact by its Board and the United States Congress.

Notably, the Ambassador shared that as a result of the engagement with the MCC team, it was agreed to commence a dialogue with the Opposition on October 16, 2023. The President expressed his hope for significant electoral and constitutional reforms in collaboration with the Opposition. The Speaker was acknowledged for his strategic role in this process.

The Ambassador emphasized the MCC’s strict policies for disbursing compact funding, particularly for energy projects. He expressed optimism for a successful outcome of the dialogue and hoped to see the Opposition participate when Parliament resumed its session on October 12, 2023.

During the discussion, the Ambassador mentioned the unprecedented situation in the United States, where a large number of Congressmen failed to represent their constituents, leading to a series of questions regarding penalties for boycotts.

Ambassador Hunt and the Speaker agreed on the necessity of formalizing a relationship between the United States Congress and the Parliament of Sierra Leone to share experiences and strengthen cooperation.

In response, the Speaker warmly welcomed the Ambassador and expressed a strong desire for United States support and a meaningful friendship. He highlighted the critical nature of the MCC Compact and expressed hope for a positive outcome.

Addressing the issue of the Opposition’s boycott of Parliament, the Speaker recounted his efforts to persuade the APC MPs to attend sessions and assured the Ambassador that their positions in Parliament and the Standing Committees were reserved for them. He firmly stated that dialogue between political parties within Parliament was the preferred option, and he encouraged the Opposition to reconsider their boycott, as it was unlikely to yield positive political results.

The Speaker also explained the legal consequences if elected MPs failed to take their seats after 30 sittings of Parliament.

Regarding the expected parliamentary sessions, the Speaker outlined plans for passing legislation, holding the executive accountable, and potentially summoning Ministers for questioning at plenary sessions. He emphasized the critical role of the Opposition, noting that constitutional amendments required a two-thirds majority, which the present Parliament composition could achieve.

The Speaker concluded by reiterating that, by Sierra Leonean law, the Opposition MPs boycotting had only ten more sittings before their seats would expire. He urged the U.S. Ambassador to use his influence to encourage the Opposition to return to Parliament, within the timeframe allowed by the Constitution, to fulfill their constitutional duty to represent their constituents