Senior SLPP national executives fallen on their swords as balance of power shifts

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 January 2017

There has been a seismic shift in power in the National Executive Council (NEC) of Sierra Leone’s main opposition SLPP party tonight, after the council voted at its meeting in the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown to expel and suspend some of its most senior executive members.

Among the list of those that have tonight fallen on their swords are Dr. Prince Harding, who just few weeks ago was unconstitutionally appointed at an irregularly convened meeting of the NEC to replace the elected and long serving chairman chief Somano Kapen, in what was described by the Sierra Leone Telegraph as a palace coup.

Somano Kapen (Photo) had been suspended pending investigations, after he was accused of misconduct in office. Tonight however, he has not been reinstated as party chairman.

But Dr. Prince Harding has been expelled and replaced by Joseph Maada Kpulun as the party’s new interim chairman. Prince Harding was the substantive Deputy Chairman and Leader of the party, prior to the unlawful suspension of Kapen.

Also expelled is the veteran politician whom many considered to have been one of the chief architects of the palace coup against chief Kapen – Dr. Abass Bundu.

Bundu is understood to have read out, confirmed and justified the unceremonious suspension of chief Kapen at the NEC meeting a few weeks ago. But tonight he has fallen on his own sword.

The party’s Secretary General – Alie Badara Kamara has also been expelled and replaced by Mr. Mohamed M. Massaquoi. Badara was appointed last year to replace the suspended substantive post holder – Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie.

Another executive who has also fallen on his sword is the national publicity secretary – Lahai Lawrence Leema. He has tonight been expelled for what is thought to be “gross manifestation of human indiscipline” and replaced by Mr. Imran Sillah.

With these sweeping expulsions at the top of the SLPP echelon, comes a wave of suspensions too, pending further investigations.

The suspended NEC members are: Edward Suluku – South; Manso Dumbuya , West; Philip Tondoneh – East; Alhaji Kanja Sesay;  Kanji Daramy;  Augustine Kallon; Rex Bonapha;  and Alimamy H. Bangura.

Tonight’s purging of the SLPP party’s top hierarchy comes as rank and file members call for the enforcement of party discipline, order and  the rule of law – based on the party’s constitution.

But as the drama continues tonight, there is defiance. The expelled national secretary general – Alie Badara Kamara has issued this statement in defiance of the decision of the NEC to expel and suspend twelve of its executives including himself, denouncing the constitutionality of today’s meeting:

“The National Secretariat of the SLPP wishes to inform the general membership of the party and the public at large that the decisions/expulsions emanating from the illegal and fake NEC meeting summoned by the suspended Chairman and Leader, former Chief Somanoh Kapen III has no effect and therefore a mere exercise in futility.

“The Secretariat is encouraging everybody to stay calm and focused, while the legitimate National Officers/Executive headed by Dr. Prince Alex Harding remain fully in charge of the operations, assets and fortunes of the party.

“We further assure you that we shall continue to chat the way forward on abated for the success of the party.

“We are weighing all options to come out with a robust response to this nefarious, lawless and dangerous anti-party activities. Signed: Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara, National Secretary General, SLPP.”

But this show of defiance is unlikely to cut ice with the re-invigorated wing of the party that is only interested in seeing that peace, order and stability return to a fractured party.

If anything, it will only serve to strengthen the resolve of the silent majority of rank and file members, who do not support the chaos and anarchy that have been engineered by a few bad politicians for their own selfish ends.

Tonight’s volcanic eruption at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown, will be seen as the single and most decisive catalyst that could strengthen or destroy the party beyond recognition.

As tempers fly and hot molten lava flows from the erupted volcano, senior party veterans will need to think outside the box and fast, in order to prevent the party from disintegrating in the coming days and weeks.

The days ahead will be critical for the survival of the party.

Hence at the NEC meeting tonight, some of the most senior party grandees and parliamentary members were present to witness the proceedings.

They included the palace coup ousted substantive chairman Chief Somano Kapen; former vice president in the Tejan Kabba government – Solomon Berewa; former minister of defence in the Kabba government – Joe Blell;  the wife of the late president Tejan Kabba –  Isatu Jabbie Kabba, who is also the head of the national women’s wing of the party; Dr. Joe Demby; and a string of SLPP party presidential aspirants including: Dr. Kandeh Yumkella; Munda Rogers; John Benjamin; Alpha Timbo; and Andrew Keili.

Perhaps the most important observer at the NEC meeting and conspicuous by her presence was the party’s leader in the Houses of Parliament – Dr. Bernadette Lahai.

Dr. Lahai has been strongly opposed to the unceremonious and unconstitutional ousting of party chairman chief Kapen and had publicly called for his reinstatement.

But conspicuous by his absence, was the man thought to have masterminded the chaos and divisions that are threatening the peace, stability and unity of the party – Julius Maada Bio.

Bio is the former military brigadier who in 1992, along with other young soldiers toppled the APC government and was accused of gross violation of human rights, including the execution of more than twenty people.

Bio is also vying for the presidential candidacy of the SLPP, after failing to convince the people of Sierra Leone in 2012 that he has what it takes to rule the country. He was resoundingly defeated at the polls by the incumbent president Ernest Bai Koroma.

But tonight the rank and file members of SLPP will be thinking about the impact this wave of expulsions and suspensions will have on the party in the coming days and weeks.

Is another long drawn court case looming for the SLPP, or will the fallen NEC members go quietly?

Will they form their own party, led by Julius Maada Bio?

What is certain tonight though, is that, as senior SLPP national executives fall on their swords, the balance of power has now shifted to the centre ground, where it is thought common sense and justice will prevail.

10 Comments

  1. What are we waiting for, its time for us to put all
    other things aside and come to one, as the motto of our beloved
    party says – ONE COUNTRY ONE PEOPLE – SLPP.

  2. The problem within the SLPP seems to be historical. It all started in 1964 when the SLPP promoted “the Monkey works, and Babon eats” policy.

    Karefa Smart was the foot lieutenant of Sir Milton. When it was time for him to enjoy the fruits of his loyalty to the party, a ‘baboon’ (Sir Albert) was given the fruit. There the problem and ideology started.

    In 1995, the late Tejan Kabba who had abandoned the party for 22 years came in with money donated by his Mandingo kin. Again he (the Baboon) was given the fruit over those who had worked to keep the party alive during a one party system.

    In 2005, Kabba nominated Solomon Berewa to lead the party to the 2007 election. Berewa became an SLPP member at the same time that Julius Bio registered with the party in the 2000s, even though Solomon Berewa’s eldest child is older than Bio.

    Berewa was defeated soundly in the 2007 elections, despite the advantage of incumbency. This was because some of the fruit growers decided that a ‘Baboon’ will no longer eat, where a monkey has done all the work.

    In 2012, Wusu Boie attempted to pull a fast one by spending money donated by his Mandingo tribesmen and women, principally the Fadika’s. Again the grassroots people of the party rejected the concept of a ‘Baboon’ reaping where a monkey has worked.

    That forced so many who had supported the “Monkey woke, and Baboon eat’ ideology to ditch the party for the APC, with Wusu Boie as their leader.

    Will the SLPP resort to the ‘Monkey woke baboon eat’ policy this time round, to gain state house?

    As far as promoting the interest of the SLPP, the only identifiable ‘Monkeys’ Alpha Timbo who backed the SLPP at a difficult time for the SLPP government. In 1997/98, his northerner brethren in the AFRC and APC wanted him to throw his weight behind the AFRC. He refused and instead steered the SLTU to support the SLPP exiled government.

    Another monkey is Maada Bio who ditched the NUP (an offshoot of the NPRC) to hand over power to the SLPP in 1996. Andrew Kailie who had remained loyal to the SLPP even when his brother-in-law (Andrew’s wife is the Loko sister of president Koroma) had tempted him with several positions.

    The rest are opportunists. Had Somano Kapen not removed from his Paramount Chief position by Mr. Petico Koroma, he would never have pitched tent with the SLPP.

    JOB only came to the SLPP because NUP could not win a seat even in his home town Segbwema. Kandeh Yumkella had all the opportunities to help bring to book the entire cross human right abuses the APC perpetrated against the SLPP and its grassroots supporters. He chose not to.

    He only registered with the SLPP after he resigned from the UN in 2015. No UN policy stipulates that staff members cannot belong to a political party in their country. What is stipulated is that staff members cannot actively undertake political activities?

    Zainab Bangura, for example, had kept her membership with the APC even when she occupied a similar position like Dr. Yumkella. So Dr. Yumkella is just another ‘Baboon’ that wants to eat where ‘Monkeys’ have done all the work.

    We will see whether the SLPP would maintain its integrity like the APC, where the ‘Monkey woke and Baboon eats’ policy is highly rejected.

  3. From the look of things, SLPP should read between the lines. Someone, somewhere is trying to set you apart and he or she is gradually making advances.

    Mind you, we are in a political battle and the line was drawn many years ago, with the creation of the two parties. SLPP will surely fight and win this battle and put the enemy to shame. I have few questions to ask:

    1. Where was the NEC meeting held?
    2. Who granted permission for this meeting?
    3. How many NEC officials were present?
    4. Why were some aspirants present when they are not part of NEC?
    5. Has SLPP a mobile office?
    6. Where will they file the minutes?

    I want the entire country to know that Yumkella was defeated by Bio in his motherland Tambaka, and this has worried these old politicians.

    I am not regionalistic, but power should be made to rotate among the four regions. Among all those who have ruled this country, 9 out of the 13 had come from the north.

  4. It is now crystal clear and rather unfortunate that Somano Kapen and cohort are bent on finally destroying the party. But God Almighty will one day hold them responsible for their dubious deeds within the SLPP.

  5. The meeting chaired by the suspended chairman clearly shows the mark of desperadoes. I do not, for one, admire the likes of Solomon Berewa, Joe Demby, Bernadette Lahai and other so-called elders of the party, who instead of brokering peace, have made themselves part of an already fractured situation.

    They have displayed very poor leadership qualities in this respect. Do they really think posterity will ever forgive them if the SLPP continues on this path; not at all. When you look at the cream of those who, hitherto, did not like the treacherous behaviors of Chief Kapen, these are the same people clamoring behind him because they hate a particular flag bearer aspirant.

    Kapen’s main ambition is to be made the de facto chairman till the general elections to find a means of living, and not love for the party. Through these intrigues he had succeeded to have his stay regularly extended by the NEC to the extent that he has served more than an extra year through dwelling in chaos. It won’t work this time round.

    The best way out is a Supreme Court option to determine the legitimacy of the two-faction created executives. I expect the Prince Harding led executive to take the lead on this, because they already have the prime mover advantage.

  6. I am filled with amusement at the SLPP saga, the musical chairs game by the leadership is quite hilarious though it is one usually played by kids. These days the grand old party, the mother of all political parties in Sierra Leone is only good for comic relief.

    With all these goings-on, they insist the party will occupy State House after the 2018 elections next year. This is rubbish! The only space the SLPP will occupy after the elections is SOME opposition benches in Parliament. Mark my words.

    They are enroute to political wilderness as far as State House is concerned.

  7. I am coming 7 years from now to take over SLPP and prove to the PEOPLE of SIERRA LEONE that SLPP is the party to bring economic development to its people.

  8. Hooo la la. SLPP has woken up and smelt the coffee. At long last the party’s old men and women (the powerful people like Berewa, Joe Blell, IJ, Bernadette Lahai, et al) have realised they cannot afford to simply sit on their laurels and continue to watch Madda Bio and his co-conspirators take over the grand old party.

    Well done senior party grandees, well done rank and file party members. You have made history and history will judge you well.

    Now we can say that SLPP is getting ready and on a stronger footing to contest the elections in 2018. With the level paying field now created by the expulsion of Abass Bundu and his henchmen, SLPP can now go on to the convention in a few months time to elect the presidential flagbearer.

    It does not matter now who is elected at the convention, as long as all of the peace loving aspiring candidates give their support to the elected candidate.

    Madda Bio, Abass Bundu, Prince Harding and their fellow conspirators – coupists, can go form their own party to contest the 2018 election. We wish them good luck. I hope they do not kill each other in the process of deciding who leads their new party.

  9. The chaos and divisions in the SLPP is not master minded by Maada Bio, but those old politicians who view politics as the only way for them and their children to survive and continue in power. They want to hold on to the leadership of the party till death do them part.

    They also want to pass on the same to their own children and children’s children. These people have rendered the SLPP powerless, useless and still want to grab wealth through political conspiracy.

    Trust me and try this – if Bio is ejected because he has got the support of the masses and has manifested this through a total control of the lower level election – and is on top of all the aspirants, mark this and note it very well that SLPP is getting closer to its grave.

    You are paving the way for APC to win the coming elections. Remember what happened in the days of Charles Margai? History is about to unfold and repeat itself.

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