Sierra Leone's President Siaka Stevens has opened the country's new session of Parliament with a strong speech stressing the advantages of the country's new one-party system of government.
GV Pro-Government demonstrators with banners
SVs Demonstrators with banners (3 shots)
GV President's wife, Mrs. Rebecca Stevens seated with two Vice-Presidents
SCU Mrs. Roness, Mayor of Freetown
SV Court judges and dignitaries
SV Crowd watching
GV & SV President Stevens takes salute (3 shots)
GV President reviews troops
GV PAN FROM Onlookers with flags TO welcoming banner outside Parliament building
GV President Stevens speaking in Parliament
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Background: Sierra Leone's President Siaka Stevens has opened the country's new session of Parliament with a strong speech stressing the advantages of the country's new one-party system of government.
SYNOPSIS: The annual opening of Parliament is always a colourful special occasion in Freetown, but this year the event held a special significance. The 73-year-old President was to be sworn in for a new 7-year term of office under a new constitution making the country a one-party state. There were crowds of people outside Parliament on Friday (16 June) to celebrate the new Constitution, and to show their support for the President.
The proceedings really got started when the President came out of the Parliament Buildings to take the salute as hips troops lined up for the occasion. The new one-party system introduced officially on Friday has come after months of debate and a public referendum to judge the feelings of the people. The countrywide referendum held between the 5th and 9th of June resulted in a "yes" vote winning with a majority of more than two million. The new constitution makes provision for two vice-presidents, and does away with the office of prime minister. And the president's term of office has been increased from five to seven years.
In his opening address to the Sierra Leone Parliament, President Stevens said he was convinced that the new one-party system would p]rove best for the country. He also outlined Government plans for agricultural development in the coming years, and warned that profiteers would face severe penalties if they worked towards their own gains at the expense of the country as a whole.