Maada Bio calls for dialogue with opposition SLPP Alliance

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 January 2017

Presidential and general elections in Sierra Leone are less than fifteen months away. Yet the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is far from being ready to contest those elections, let alone position itself as a government in waiting, despite the popularity of the ruling All People’s Congress Party (APC) now at rock bottom. (Photo: John Benjamin and Maada Bio).

Since its catastrophic defeat at the polls by the incumbent APC in 2012 and at almost every by-election held since then, the Sierra Leone People’s Party has fast become a shadow of its former self, torn by infighting, indiscipline and lack of strong leadership.

But it is the fight for the party’s presidential candidacy for the 2018 elections by no fewer than eight strongly willed contenders – including Julius Maada Bio, that has now become the fast moving torpedo that is about to sink the SLPP ship.

Even those elected by the party’s rank and file at their last national convention to manage the affairs of the party, and maintain order and discipline, are being hounded out of office by a faction believed to be loyal to the 2012 presidential candidate Julius Maada Bio.

Bio has been accused by many of destabilising and dividing the party – a charge he and his campaign team have continuously denied.

What is not in dispute however, is the polarising effect of Maada Bio’s military approach to leadership, which is not based on consensus building – but the command and control of those loyal to his cause – to become president of Sierra Leone at all cost.

Standing in his way of achieving this objective, are members of an Alliance of aspiring SLPP presidential candidates – John Oponjo Benjamin, Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, Andrew Keili, Alpha Timbo, Munda Rogers, and Jonathan Tengbe.

The battle for the presidential candidacy and leadership of the SLPP is also being fought by the two sides in the country’s Courts, where issues of legitimacy and constitutionality are being decided.

SLPP is now deeply wounded by these divisions and in fighting. And this will make it impossible for the party to successfully contest the 2018 general and presidential elections, irrespective of who becomes the presidential candidate.

Maada Bio knows this all too well, and is looking for a way to consolidate his grip on large sections of the party, while trying to legitimise his claim on the presidential candidacy.

Today, the Julius Maada Bio Media and Communications Team issued a report of Bio, calling for dialogue with members of the Alliance, to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

But is this a clever ploy by Maada Bio to present himself as a man of peace who cares about the party? Or does he genuinely want to work collectively towards building a strong and united SLPP; embrace all of the other candidates for the presidential candidacy; respect the constitution of the party; accept a level playing field that gives equal chance to each of the candidates without intimidation, subterfuge or rancour?

Will some of the members of the SLPP party and indeed the Alliance, find some of the language used in Bio’s statements – inflammatory, provocative, and divisive?

This is the report:  

“The leading flagbearer aspirant of the SLPP for the February 2018 election, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio (Photo) has offered olive branch to members of the Alliance to dialogue for the sake of the people and the country.

“Bio made this offer during a “thank you” visit to the people of Pujehun District on Friday, 13th January 2017 for their continued support for him over the years.

“He informed the jubilant crowd that in 1996 when he was head of state, he told Foday Sankoh that for the sake of peace and the country he should come to the dialogue table. Using that as an inspiration, Bio said he is appealing to “our brothers and sisters in the Alliance” to dialogue and have peace in the party for the sake of the people and country.

“He said he is available any day and any time to dialogue, however, he stressed that the dialogue should be based on the party’s constitution and respect for elected officials of the party.

“Bio also called on members and supporters of the SLPP to conduct themselves in a manner that will make peace conducive in the party. He told his supporters that because they are in the majority across the country they should always be peaceful. “PAOPA in the majority is democracy,” Bio asserted.

“Bio also expressed his disappointment about comment from the SLPP Minority Leader. Using sarcasm to describe her as Minority Leader, “in the true sense of the word”, Bio said that he had hoped the Minority Leader would have been engaging her colleague MPs to solve their differences.

“However, Bio said that SLPP is more important than any group or individual and no single person will be allowed to destroy the SLPP. He also revealed that the Minority Leader was even defeated in her own village by his supporters during the lower level elections.

“Bio assured the crowd that SLPP will form the next government. In reminiscent of the 2012 election, Bio reminded the young people about one of his education pledges of the last election on the abolition of “SS4” and free education until “SS3”. He promised the excited young people that his presidency will ensure that quality education is accessible and affordable for all.

“During the event all the SLPP delegates in the Pujehun District for the forthcoming SLPP Flagbearer election scheduled for February pledged their supports for Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.

“In attendance at the event was the lovely wife of Rtd. Brigadier Bio, Fatima, the Acting Chairman and Leader, Dr Prince Harding, Regional Vice Chairman South, Hon Edward Soluku and host of national officers, senior party members and Members of Parliament.”

Will members of the SLPP Alliance take up this offer of dialogue? And if they do, on what terms and conditions will they be prepared to have a dialogue with Maada Bio?

Is this a serious and genuine peace offer from Julius Maada Bio?  

3 Comments

  1. Who was the flag bearer of the APC in 2002 and 2007? Leave Bio alone. He is loved by the grassroots of the party. Sometimes you guys try to analyze something that even a 3 year old kid can understand.

  2. From the time, I started following SLPP flag bearer aspirants, Sierra Leone Telegraph’s analysis of Maada has always been negative without any good comments. You have never condemned the other aspirants except Maada.

    This is destructive journalism and many of us value and hold this media to a very high degree. You have never said good things about Maada. If there is nothing you can offer him then remember him for this that he handed over power to a civilian government and that he is admired, cherished and loved by the masses.

    He has the right to aspire for the leadership of the SLPP just like any one of us. Maada is the choice of the masses across the four regions but not those who have handled power or leadership of either APC or SLPP. Even the APC knows that Maada is their biggest threat hence the reason why they too have not elected or appointed their flag bearer yet.

    Any attempt by the SLPP to deviate from electing Maada as the flag bearer will make SLPP not to rule this country for another ten years.

  3. Benjamin Jones

    I think you misunderstood me in relation to the SLPP Presidential flagbearership as you stated in your reply. There is a difference from contesting to be a presidential flag bearer among other competitors as in the case of Charles Margai who contested the 1995,2002 and 2007 to be a presidential flag bearer, but never won as he lost to the Late pa Tejan-Kabbah in 1995 and 2002 who end winning the presidential election for the SLPP in 1996 and 2002.

    Charles Margai never contested as a presidential flag bearer of the SLPP and the only candidate that contested twice as a presidential flag bearer was Dr Ahmed Tejan- Kabbah and he successfully won the presidential election under the SLPP party.

    If Pa Kabba should have lost the 1996 presidential election I don’t think the party would have allowed him to recontest for the 2002 presidential election where he also won that election as the president of Sierra Leone.

    That was what Solomon Berewah was clearly instructed when he lost the 2007 presidential election that caused him to resign before the last delegate conference between 2010 and 2011 that elected Julius Maada Bio to contest 2012 presidential election and lost.

    And as opposition leader between 2012-2017 Bio should have followed the precedent laid down by Solomon Berewah in 2010 before the SLPP party delegate to resign his position and as opposition leader so that the winner of the 2017 delegate conference of the presidential flag bearer can be prepared to lead and contest the 2018 presidential election.

    As for Dr Blyden she was a strong advocate and former member of the SLPP and even Emerson the musician made reference to her in one his music after the 2007 presidential and general election.

    And you Benjamin Jones must realise that when Maada Bio won the Presidential flagbearership, many ardent supporters resigned from the party like the leader of the young generation of the party – Osman Boie Kamara and Dr Sylvia Blyden, etc. Some defected to the APC party as you rightly stated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*