Sierra Leone - Government

Under the constitution adopted in June 1978, Sierra Leone had a republican form of government. Executive authority was exercised by the president and cabinet. The president was the leader of the only constitutionally authorized party, the APC. He was chosen by a conference of delegates, and became the only eligible candidate for a presidential mandate of seven years. The president appointed cabinet ministers and two vice presidents from among the members of the legislature.

In 1986, the legislature was a unicameral house of representatives presided over by a speaker, consisting of 127 members, of whom 105 were popularly elected, 12 were paramount chiefs elected by chiefdom councils in their respective districts, and 10 were appointed by the president. The representatives were elected for a five-year term, but elections could be called earlier. Any citizen 25 years of age or older, able to speak and read English, was qualified for election to the house, but candidates first had to be approved by APC officials. Suffrage was universal at age 21.

A new constitution came into force on 1 October 1991, but it was superseded by the military junta established after the 29 April 1992 coup. Shortly thereafter, the parliament and political parties were dissolved and the NPRC ruled by decree through a Supreme Council of State (SCS) and a Council of State Secretaries (CSS-Cabinet). In November 1993 they announced a timetable leading to multiparty democracy and general elections in 1996, which Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won on the second round with 59.4% of the vote. He was overthrown in a military coup in May 1997, but his government was reinstated by ECOMOG in 1998. A government of national unity formed in October 1999 as part of the Lomé Accords was short-lived.

Presently, the unicameral parliament has 124 seats—112 elected by popular vote, and 12 filled by paramount chiefs elected in separate polls; members serve five-year terms. President Kabbah was re-elected to his second and last five-year term in May 2002. Elections are due in 2007.

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