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Sierra Leone Parliament Descends Into Wild Brawl, Shocking Video Shows

Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio

Sierra Leone’s parliament descended into chaos on Wednesday, with a large brawl breaking out between government and opposition MPs.

Legislators in Freetown, the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, were debating the government’s plan to introduce a new proportional representation electoral system for the country, when the violence began.

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio speaking at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, U.K. on November 2, 2021. On Wednesday, a brawl broke out in the parliament of Sierra Leone between supporters and opponents of President Bio.
HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP/GETTY

Footage posted online shows rival MPs, from the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and opposition All People’s Congress (APC), shoving one another and throwing bits of furniture.

The violence broke out at 6 a.m. ET, with Africa News reporting that police entered the chamber to separate the warring factions and expel some suspected troublemakers.

Sierra Leone’s electoral commission has advised that the country switches to a proportionate voting system, ahead of local and parliamentary elections in 2023, though this wouldn’t have an impact on presidential contests.

The move, which requires parliamentary approval, is supported by the government but fiercely opposed by opposition politicians who have branded it unconstitutional.

Chernor Maju Bah, aka Chericoco, leader of the APC, called the proposal a “serious constitutional breach,” in an article for the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

He argued that it would “significantly reverse the gains we have made in strengthening democracy in post-war Sierra Leone” if implemented.

The country suffered an 11-year civil war from 1991 to 2002, which saw the U.K.- and U.S.-supported government take on a number of rebel groups.

Bah added: “Using the PR system in place of the constituency system would amount to taking away the rights of the people to choose their representatives directly and hand that power over to political parties.”

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