Kandeh Yumkella addresses members of the All Aspirants Alliance

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 February 2017

Sierra Leone’s main opposition SLPP is taking hard decisions about the way forward to its forthcoming national convention, which is expected to take place in May 2017.

This is in sharp contrast to the ruling APC party which is being seen as stifling free and transparent internal leadership contest, ahead of its national convention.

Party grandees and stakeholders of the SLPP are calling for a united party with one purpose – to win the 2018 general and presidential elections, and for all aspiring presidential candidates of the party to abide by the terms of a peace accord signed a few weeks ago in Freetown.

With doubts now being raised about the necessity and survival of the party’s All Aspirants Alliance, after the resignation of some of the alliance members – in particular, John Benjamin, Umaru Bond Wurie and Francis Lahai, there was renewed impetus last week for the rest of the Alliance members to remain steadfast and united, as the party heads to its national convention to elect its presidential candidate for the country’s 2018 elections.

Writing to his colleagues last Tuesday, 21st February, 2027, this is what Dr. Kandeh Yumkella told his fellow alliance members:

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University of Ghana honours Dr Kandeh Yumkella of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 February, 2017

The University of Ghana has announced that Dr. Kandeh Yumkella (Photo) of Sierra Leone will deliver the 2017 Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures scheduled for March 21-22, 2017, at the University’s Great Hall in Accra.

Yumkella will speak about ‘Africa – A Continent of Hope, Opportunity and Transformation: Challenges for Energy Transition in Africa and Transforming Africa’s Agriculture and Agribusiness’.

Named after James Kwegyir Aggrey, a Ghanaian educationist, Alexander Garden Fraser – a Scottish missionary and educationist and Gordon Guggisberg – a British Colonial Governor, for major contributions made to the development of education, the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecture series is a high point on the University’s academic calendar. It is intended to highlight the role of the academy in the generation of ideas for development.

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Sierra Leone ruling APC bribed its way to victory at by-election – says SLPP

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 February 2017

Last Saturday’s by-election in constituency 066 in the district of Tonkolili, which was won by the ruling APC party, has been described by the opposition SLPP as unfair and violent, with plenty of evidence of electoral malpractice.

With general and presidential elections due in just over a year, trust and confidence in the government’s commitment to ensure a free and fair elections is being questioned.

In 2007 the ruling APC was accused of massive vote rigging which took them to State House, after the electoral commission nullified hundreds of thousands of votes in the opposition SLPP stronghold. And in 2012 there was plenty of evidence of electoral malpractice. The ruling APC was also accused of the blatant abuse of its power of incumbency and buying of votes.

If the behaviour of the ruling APC at last week’s by-election in Tonkolili is sign of things to come, then it seems the opposition parties will be wasting their time turning up at the presidential and general elections in 2018.

But it seems this is precisely what the ruling APC is hoping would happen, so as to be declared unopposed and to remain in power for another five years.

Yesterday, 21st February 2017, the opposition SLPP published a statement, calling on the international community to take note of its concerns regarding the bad behaviour of the ruling APC at last Saturday’s by-election in Tonkolili. This is what they said:

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SLPP’s search for its 2018 presidential candidate starts in earnest

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 February 2017

Peace may have returned to Sierra Leone’s main opposition SLPP, but the hard road to selecting the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 elections is paved with thorns.

There are difficulties ahead that need to be resolved now, before the party national convention in a few months. This is also true for the ruling APC, who are yet to publish the names of those contesting for their presidential candidacy.

According to the constitution of both parties, nomination for presidential flagbearership must be received at a date prior to their national convention, at which election will be held respectively to decide who will lead and contest the 2018 general and presidential elections.

Although a peace accord has been agreed and signed by all the aspiring SLPP candidates, outlining the principles upon which the various factions of the party can be united, it does not resolve the issue of who will contest the presidential candidacy at the convention.

Last night, the All Aspirants Alliance of the SLPP which includes Kandeh Yumkella, Alpha Timbo, Munda Rogers, Andrew Keili, Earnest Domahena and Mr. Franklin Rogers, issued a public statement explaining the process they have agreed upon to decide who in the Alliance shall be nominated as their presidential candidate. This is what the statement says:

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Sierra Leone opposition SLPP succeeds in reducing ruling APC majority as confidence in APC slides

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 February 2017

Sierra Leone’s opposition SLPP party has made a Herculean start in reducing the 60% national electoral majority gained by the ruling APC in 2012, after a tough show of strength and unity at last Saturday’s by-election in Bumbuna, Tonkolili district.

The by-election came about as the result of the death of sitting APC Member of Parliament – Dr. Taworo Ansumana Bockarie Tara-Koroma of Sambaia Chiefdom, representing Constituency 066. Dr. Koroma passed away on the 16th of December, 2016, and was buried on the 9th January, 2017.

In 2007 APC won the seat after polling 11,602 votes and SLPP 2,972, with a turnout of 15,513.

But in 2012 the turnout was even larger – 21,899. Dr. Taworo Ansumana Bockarie Tara-Koroma of Sambaia Chiefdom won the seat for the ruling APC with a much larger majority, after polling 88% of the votes cast – 19,318, and SLPP trailing second with only 1,856 (8.4%) – losing over one thousand of the votes won in 2007.

That was in 2012, and the opposition SLPP has realised the errors of its ways. After years of bitter political wrangling and jostling for the leadership of the party, and a peace deal brokered by Alie Kabba just two weeks ago, SLPP supporters have every reason to celebrate last Saturday’s by-election result, increasing their votes in Tonkolili by almost 3,000 votes, thus closing the gap massively on the ruling APC.

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President Koroma announces election date – March 7th 2018

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 February 2017

President Koroma has finally yielded to strong demands from civil society groups and the media for the 2018 elections date to be announced.

It is not clear as to why the president, who is not known for good decision making, has dithered and wasted time in making the announcement.

Critics say that by pushing back the constitutional deadline for the announcement, president Koroma had created unnecessary political tension and uncertainty in the country.

But what is now certainly clear, according to the president’s national radio broadcast is that local, constituency and presidential elections will all be held on the 7th of March 2018.

Constitutional lawyers say that this date is outside the mandated period set by the country’s constitution, which stipulates that presidential election must be held not later than three months after the end of the five-year term of the president.

President Koroma was sworn in on 23 November 2012, and his mandated term limit expires on the 23rd of February 2018. But presidential spokesman – Abdulai Bayraytay told reporters that the president’s announcement meets with the constitutional mandate.

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The wheels of the Sierra Leone opposition SLPP peace process are now fully engaged

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 February 2017

The members of the newly formed peace committee of Sierra Leone’s main opposition SLPP party (Photo) have gone to work in earnest. Since their appointment last Wednesday, they have been hard at work trying to consolidate the party’s hard won peace settlement.

But more importantly, they are currently pulling together a draft document that will outline strategies for dealing with all outstanding issues that have brought so much friction and chaos in the party.

The committee has been mandated by the party to help produce a roadmap and blueprint that will unite the party, transform it into a credible opposition and position the SLPP as a government in waiting.

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