The Government

The Government

Sierra Leone became a republic in 1971, with a government modelled along constitutional democracy. The country is divided into four (4) administrative regions with fourteen (14) political districts; twelve in the three (3) provinces and two (2) in the western area. Government comprises the executive arm; the legislative arm and judiciary. In the executive arm, the Head of state is the President. In cabinet, there are Ministers of State appointed by the President with the approval of the House of Representatives (Parliament). The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term). In the legislative arm, there is a unicameral Parliament consisting of 124 seats; of which 112 members are elected by popular vote and 12 filled by Paramount Chiefs representing each of the 12 provincial districts.

The legal system is based on English Common Law and customary laws indigenous to local tribes. Universal suffrage
is 18 years of age. The judicial arm consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, High Court and Magistrate Court.

Sierra Leone is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth, African Union, ECOWAS, African Development Bank (AfDB), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Along with Guinea and Liberia, Sierra Leone formed the Mano River Union (MRU)- designed to implement development projects and promote regional economic integration between the three nations

General elections were last held in Sierra Leone on 17 November 2012. The result was a victory for the incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People’s Congress (APC), who received 58.7% of the vote. The APC also won 67 of the 112 elected seats in Parliament in elections that were described by observers as free and fair. The country is currently undertaking a comprehensive constitutional review after 22 years with the existing constitution, which was enacted in 1991. An inclusive constitutional review committee comprising 80 eminent personalities was established in July 2013 including a support secretariat. The two-year review process should end in June 2015 with a referendum on the proposed constitution. As a result of steady progress in national security, peace and stability, UNIPSIL officially wound down its presence in Sierra Leone in March 2014 and was transformed into a fully-fledged UN development office. The security risks emanating from the withdrawal of UNIPSIL appear minimal at present in view of the progress made in national security as well as peace and stability. To this effect, the government recently signed a United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) with the UN country team in Sierra Leone, which recognises that Sierra Leone is on a firm path to recovery, that changes are ongoing and positive, and that the country is becoming more robust. The UNDAF is fundamentally developmental and represents a real shift away from Sierra Leone’s previous ‘post-conflict’ status.

Private sector

The Government of Sierra Leone has made strong efforts to promote private sector activity. It has also implemented key trade-promotion activities under the World Trade Organization’s Integrated Framework, and modernised the legal and regulatory framework. The success of these reforms has improved Sierra Leone’s ranking in the World Bank’s report Doing Business 2014, from 150th place in 2011 to 141st in 2012 and to 140th in 2013, out of 185 countries. This rank has been maintained for 2014. The number of procedures, time and cost required for licensing a business have all improved since 2012 and the country compares well to its neighbours such as the Gambia and Liberia. Moreover, the judicial system in Sierra Leone is moderately efficient in enforcing business contracts. Ranked in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) at position 138 out of 144 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-15.

Financial Sector

Financial sector development has been broadly in line with the country’s Financial Sector Development Plan 2009 (FSDP), which aims to enhance financial stability through widening and deepening the financial sector, amongst other measures. The financial sector was stable in 2013, and all banks were liquid and profitable, albeit with a higher than previous NPL ratio of 22.4% at end-December 2013.