Breaking News: Dr Kandeh Yumkella resigns from the SLPP to join national grand coalition of progressive liberals

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 September 2017

Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella – one of the leading contenders for the presidency of Sierra Leone at elections to be held on 7th of March 2018, has today waved goodbye to the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

The presidential hot favourite has this afternoon resigned from the SLPP along with several high-profile party grandees, including Mr. Joe Demby and former deputy governor of Bank of Sierra Leone – Mr Momodu Fofanah.

His resignation is now likely to trigger a seismic mass exodus of party rank and file members and senior officials, to join the new national grand coalition of progressive liberals that are in and out of the country, poised to take over the running of the country after 2018 elections.

Speaking at a news conference this afternoon, Dr. Yumkella was unequivocal about his reasons for leaving the SLPP, and his hopes for the future.

Dr Yumkella said: “I feel energised and charged today to move forward and join other people of like minds as part of a New Force of Hope and a Coalition of Progressives. I have been talking to several political movements and parties recently, trying to assess the best approach for us to integrate into existing efforts, and my decision is now to work from within the National Grand Coalition (NGC) as a rallying point for those progressive minds, students, workers, traders, unemployed people, business people, elders, religious people, civil society groups, and women’s groups, that I have had the opportunity of meeting in my recent consultations. For this purpose, the global KKY Movement will fully transition into the National Grand Coalition by 31st October, 2017.”

This is his full statement to the people of Sierra Leone and the international community:

On 3rd July 2017, I publicly announced my decision to suspend my bid to contest for the Presidency of the Republic of Sierra Leone under the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). On the same occasion, I promised to keep the public informed of the next steps in my political career. Your meeting here today is in fulfillment of that promise exactly two months since that decision.

Permit me to state at the outset that my candidacy for the presidency of our country has always been about seizing an opportunity to reset our people on a progressive trajectory by improving governance, reducing mass poverty, curbing corruption, fostering national cohesion, providing hope and opportunities for them to translate their needs and aspirations into reality and using our abundant natural resources for sustainable development.

I have had profound sentimental attachment to the SLPP since my childhood when my father and family made huge sacrifices as their contribution to the establishment of the Party.

Thereafter, many great men and women each did a little so that the SLPP could survive including, to name only a few, Sir Milton Margai, Bai Farama Tass, Bai Shebora Yumkella, Ella Koblo Gulama, Bai Koblo Pathbana, S.B. Mara, Sir Albert Margai , Salia Jusu-Sheriff, Teacher Lagao, Lamina Sankoh, R.G.O. King, John Nelson Williams, Gideon Thomas, Honourable Mana Kpaka, John Akar, Honoria Bailor Caulker, Pa Sanusi Mustapha.

The SLPP Party to which my parents belonged was a party of these dignified and respectable men and women who, together with my own parents, were committed to working for the progress of their country and compatriots. They strongly believed in the core values of the primacy of rule of law, preservation of unity, guarantee of freedom and justice.

It was this tradition that I felt duty bound to preserve and contribute to with my own talents, time, energy and resources. Regrettably, as you are all aware, that Party is no more.

What we have today is a caricature of the SLPP of our Founding Fathers suffering as it is currently under a mis-leadership that continues to thrive on violence, lack of respect for elders, falsehood, betrayal, violation of rules, manipulation of people with messages of division, dark schemes and designs, lack of focus and loss of credibility.

When I announced that I was suspending my aspiration for the position of SLPP Flag bearer, I strongly believed that the conflicts and tensions within the party would be at least reduced if not eliminated since some people had, wrongly though, attributed those tensions and conflicts to my presence in the race.

However, the whole country is now aware that since I suspended my bid for the flagbearership, the camps have multiplied, the internecine squabbles have intensified, whilst the divisions have become deeper, and the confusion has continued.

Yet the party mis-leaders are still in denial that they are the real architects of the ongoing conflicts, dysfunctional nature and eventual demise of the party. People who supported me and continue to do so have been marginalized and wrongfully excluded from mainstream party activities while the quarrels over delegates’ lists continue unabated.

Today, the SLPP is in a suspended state of re-animation due to the greed, selfishness and wickedness of a few characters as majority of the people of good conscience in the Party are being led down the path of destruction of a party they have been loyal to and made sacrifices for.

There are no red or green Sierra Leone, we are just one people bound by a common heritage in the land that we love.

A political party is a vehicle for contesting elections and attaining state power, but loyalty to party must never take precedence over loyalty to country. Our country must always come first and no interest should supersede national and public interests. Hence, my belief and the mantra of the KKY Movement has always been “Country First”.

Consequently, it is with a heavy heart that I hereby publicly declare that with effect from today 5th September , 2017, I cease to be a member of the SLPP. I am not leaving alone.

As you can see gathered here with me are many of the leaders of the party (especially the critical leaders at the constituency level), who have felt disenfranchised and share my views about what the SLPP has become, and have therefore decided they can no longer remain on a ship that is fast sailing towards the breakers ahead.

They are men and women who have held high positions in the party for over two decades, and some including former Vice President Joe Demby, and Dr. Momodu Yilla, have served our country in very high positions. And I know that after today, many thousands more will also exit and follow us and we encourage them to do so from today.

I want to recall that when I announced the suspension of my bid for the flagbearership of the SLPP, I also stated that I will continue my bid for the presidency and will seek to work with a Coalition of Progressives. Well, today, I stand on the threshold of a new beginning in my life, when my personal commitment to put my country first takes on a new meaning.

The urgency with which our people are crying for help in Sierra Leone today has compelled me to leave all the negative forces behind and look forward to a positive life of service and dedication to God and country.

Some people have argued that in the politics of Sierra Leone, there are only two parties capable of winning elections and therefore a THIRD FORCE is not possible here. They say that CHANGE is not possible in Sierra Leone because the ordinary people are not intelligent and clever enough to know that they are being robbed and used by their current mis-leaders who have ingrained in them the false belief that the people will always choose to support those who are responsible for their past and present lives of misery and deprivation.

However, we Progressives hear and see a totally different narrative from around the country, especially at the ground-zero of suffering in the Ataya Bases, among the Okada riders, and in the sprawling urban slums around Bo, Freetown, Kenema, Kono, and Makeni etc.

They don’t want to continue to suffer because they know now that they have been fooled all along. We Progressives know that no one can fool the people all the time.

Therefore, what the people are looking for now is a NEW FORCE with a totally different political narrative from the ones they have been used to for over half a century and not just a THIRD FORCE that will repeat the same old stories of the past. And there is strong reason to believe that change is coming and that something entirely new is going to happen.

The call for change can be heard from the unemployed youth, college graduate who cannot find a job, young girl who dropped out of school because of pregnancy, relatives of thousands of mothers who died while delivering a baby in a dilapidated healthcare system, market women who cannot make ends meet after days of selling; thousands of veterans without sustainable livelihoods, and tens of thousands of teachers without payroll identification numbers.

Everywhere, people are rising, people who have never been political are now getting involved and stepping forward; there is a general mood in the nation today that enough is enough.

Furthermore, I can see people belonging to different political parties putting away their party colours in order to work together for the good of the country and our people. When good people stay aloof it is bad characters that fill the vacuum, which brings us suffering, destroys our lives and the future of our children.

Therefore, I feel energised and charged today to move forward and join other people of like minds as part of a New Force of Hope and a Coalition of Progressives.

I have been talking to several political movements and parties recently, trying to assess the best approach for us to integrate into existing efforts, and my decision is now to work from within the National Grand Coalition (NGC) as a rallying point for those progressive minds, students, workers, traders, unemployed people, business people, elders, religious people, civil society groups, and women’s groups, that I have had the opportunity of meeting in my recent consultations.

For this purpose, the global KKY Movement will fully transition into the National Grand Coalition by 31st October, 2017.

Some may wish to ask why the National Grand Coalition? The answer is simple. The NGC is not a political party like other political parties we have known in this country. It is aspiring to be a mass movement of Sierra Leoneans at home and in the diaspora who are committed to real change, and are working to ensure that ordinary people have ownership of the party.

I have been impressed by the NGC’s ability to attract people from every region, religion and other political parties; the integrity and dynamism of those at its helm, freshness of its outlook, high values and principles on which it stands and the confidence it commands in those who are yearning for a new kind of politics in Sierra Leone. It is indeed a Grand Coalition of Progressives.

I shall be paying a visit to the NGC’s office later today to visit interim Chairman and Leader, Dr. Dennis Bright, and to formally take up my role in the party. The NGC Movement has already received its Provisional Certificate to operate as a political party and as such it is bound by the rules set out in the Political Parties Act, 2002.

Last week the Commissioners of the PPRC inspected the NGC offices around the country, and I am reliably informed that the offices fully meet the requirements to be registered as a full-fledged Political Party.

As we await receipt of the final certificate in a few weeks which I understand to be on September 23rd, we will respect the PPRC rules of engagement. Consequently, I shall refrain from making political statements on behalf of the NGC for now, but will continue to exercise my rights as a citizen of Sierra Leone and as a professional development expert and continue to speak about development issues and education.

At this point, let me say that I bear no ill-feelings towards any members of the SLPP most of whom will remain my great friends. I hope at some stage in the future we will all agree to work together for the good of our country by sharing the same concerns and solutions to humongous problems our people are currently facing.

This applies equally to people from other political parties and persuasions with whom I find common ground. They are all sincerely and genuinely welcome to join me and the National Grand Coalition in our patriotic search for a better Sierra Leone.

We need to break away from some old allegiances that were meaningful in their time but which unfortunately have been overtaken by the realities of a changing world and can no longer offer us the solutions that we seek.

We must all rise above ethnic chauvinism, reduce patronage in public institutions, cub corruption among public officials and make the stage work for ordinary citizens. Our new party is calling on all Sierra Leonean – irrespective of party affiliation, region of origin, and ethnic identity and religious affiliation – to join us in taking our country back.

At the end of the day, a good leader is someone who leaves his or her state in far better shape than it was when they took over as leaders of their country. Measured in terms of this common sense proxy, the late President Kabba left our state in a far better condition than it was when he took over a war-torn and broken nation in 1996.

And when the candidate chosen by the party to succeed him was defeated in the 2007 presidential elections, he gracefully did the right thing by peacefully handing over power to the APC after his party’s defeat, Kabba was clearly putting his Country First ahead of his party.

Let us hope and pray President Koroma will follow Kabba’s example and hand over power to a new generation of leaders in the forthcoming elections in March 2018.

To this end, we have full confidence that the National Electoral Commission is fully capable of rectifying the 30,000 missing voters expeditiously from the hard copies of the registration forms. However, we express deep concern over the technical integrity of the voter machines, the software for voting tallying etc.

We should learn from the Kenyan experience and capacitate NEC and not undermined it.

Today, more than ever before, Sierra Leone, our country, needs people of courage and integrity and fortitude.

So, let us stop sitting on the fence. I call on all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans, all those who truly care about Sierra Leone and want real change to take place, those who want this land that we love to take its rightful place in the community of nations, those who want their children and grandchildren to grow up in a peaceful and prosperous country to join me and become members of the National Grand Coalition.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my wife and my family, the KKY Movement, our many friends and supporters, at home and abroad, for their steadfast support and continued confidence in my candidacy. With God’s grace and guidance, we shall succeed in bringing change to our beloved Sierra Leone.

Long live the people of Sierra Leone and may God bless us all.

You can listen to a section of Dr Yumkella announcing his resignation and outlining his future:

Editor’s Note

kindly donate to our Freetown Flood Disaster Emergency Appeal. We’re raising £50000 to help victims of the massive flooding in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which took the lives of over one thousand people, with thousands now homeless.

Please go to our JustGiving Crowdfunding Page and help make it happen:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/freetownflooddisasteremergencyappeal?utm_id=2&utm_term=RP2Xbe26B

7 Comments

  1. When you take a close look at the APC and SLPP track records in terms of governance, you wouldn’t distinguish one from the other. They are identical peers for bad governance.

    Therefore, most people would be reluctant to give another chance to any of these two parties as both have outlived their usefulness to the nation and have lost total credibility.

    Their political culture of self centeredness and party loyalty losing focus on the big picture – the wellbeing of the citizens and progress of the country, all along the six decades of political dominance, will take their toll come 2018.

    Here is where a third political force made up of a coalition of progressives bringing onboard a number of other political parties where no former government officials take a leading role, would convince the electorate a real change is about to happen.

    The people are too tired of the APC and SLPP!

  2. NATIONAL GRAND COALITION

    This is a brave and sensible move with real intent on transforming the political pattern of this country.

    Every progressive Sierra Leonean had long wished for this day to come, a new political force is just what Sierra Leone needs now, at this point in time.

    A coalition of progressives and like minded people, different from traditional politicians. A responsive system of governance is what Sierra Leoneans require this time onwards.

    This National Grand Coalition in the offing should come with it a distinct set of politicians and a new political landscape that would inspire the people to give credibility to the coalition.

    Most political figures of the past bear no credibility to the long suffering masses of the population and can be a liability to the Coalition.

    The people would like to see the leadership surrounded by fresh militants with different mindset having little or no political affiliation with the main political parties, especially for those having held responsible positions in governance but made no difference.

    The credibility gap of their performance in office may hunt the coalition. And the people may become wary about their expectations with the coalition.

  3. We have been down this road before with Dr. John Karefa-Smart, Thaimu Bangura and Charles Margai, all disgruntled party activists with big egos, who thought that they would overtake the SLPP and the APC with the formation of a new party.

    The SLPP and the APC are so woven into Sierra Leone’s political fabric that only a coalition with one of them will be effective in unseating the other. This is why Dr. Kandeh Yumkella should have exercised some patience with the SLPP. That was his most realistic route to the presidency.

    I do not foresee a mass exodus of prominent SLPP members to Yumkella’s coalition. There are reports that Yumkella was never liked by SLPP’s other flag bearer candidates, hence it was a relief that he quit the party. And Joe Demby, who is now in Yumkella’s camp, is not capable of taking votes away from SLPP strongholds. The man is weak, which explains why Tejan Kabbah dumped him in 2002.

    Will Kandeh Yumkella be capable of winning the presidency with a third force? I predict that his best showing will not produce more than 5% of the presidential votes. I may be wrong come March 2018

  4. When Kandeh Yomkella suspended effectively suspended his membership of S.L.P.P.my hope was that he would not retreat or back down in the name of finally stemming the tide of political dominance which the said party and A.P.C. have had over the people of Sierra Leone for almost six decades. These two parties cannot point to any sustained development in any sector of the country as they succeed each other in office.

    Within this context I have always made Sir Milton Margai the exception. His passing just three years after independence in 1961 was a huge blow to the nation from which it is still reeling. The evidences for this claim are well documented.

    President Kabba should also be treated kindly by history. He had to juggle and reconcile two monstrosities: a devastated economy and a hellish civil war,which hardly gave him time to control the rank and file in his S.L.P.P. government,who were having such a field day that international donors refused to part with any more aid until there was a new government – a significant factor in the defeat of the party in the 2007 election by Earnest Koroma’s A.P.C.

    After some initial feigning moves to to get the people into a stupor Earnest Koroma dived into the same established trend which has kept the country not only stagnant but receding into further oblivion too – something which he shares with S.L.P.P.

    Now Sierra Leone is at a critical junction with only two roads,one leads to the opposite side of heaven and the other at least holds out the promise of allowing us time to think intensely and seriously about our future. In other words, the latter road buys us a little time.

    We can only turn into this road if we kick both A.P.C. and S.L.P.P.out come March 2018.They have both failed us to the point where we should not trust them in broad day light,let alone in the dark.

    A coalition of whatever description is what the nation should go for. In the absence of a coalition we should vote for the devil whose sole purpose all believers know – be they muslim,christian or otherwise. By having the devil as head of government should bring us closer to Allah/God who may finally hear our plea and cry for a head who is free of corruption and has the love of mother Sierra Leone uppermost in his/her heart.

    It is quite amazing how the sheer magnetism and charisma of Kandeh have already forced political pundits whose commentaries I have read to declare him the de facto leader of any grand coalition which is likely to emerge,but the man himself has said nothing about leadership. We must all keep our excitement in check to fashion any analysis appropriately.

    But I have to make a prediction.If a grand coalition headed by Dr Yumkella starts to gather momentum across the country, and especially if it starts attracting notable figures, the apparent cohesion and unity which pervades the A.P.C. structure will come under unempirical stress to make the civil war within S.L.P.P. pale in the horizon by comparison.

    Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the time has come for us to effect a revolution by casting aside all other considerations in favour of opening a new chapter through voting for any coalition which Kandeh and others can stitch together. It is the only way to tell A.P.C. and S.L.P.P. that we are not fools.

  5. In a democracy, people are free to associate with whomsoever they deem fit. It is Dr. Yumkella’s right to dissociate with the SLPP and associate with his new friends in the Grand Coalition.

    But, looking at examples of countries in the African sub-continent where coalitions have unseated dictators, it has been the coalition of smaller political parties merging with another formidable opposition to unseat a political party that had perpetuated itself in power for a long time through some undemocratic means.

    The Gambia case might ring a bell. The case in Kenya that is currently playing is another example where the party of Mr. Ordinga which has been a formidable opposition party for some time has merged with other smaller parties to form the NASA that is currently challenging the Jubilee of Mr. Kenyatta. The Jubilee is another Coalition that was formed from the former Ruling Party that Mr. Kenyatta belonged to and a splinter group led by William Ruto who was a member of the NDC (Mr. Ordinga’s original party). The formation of the Jubilee was to avert criminal proceedings against the two leaders who have been indicted for inhumane crimes after the 2007 elections.

    Could this be said of the Grand Coalition that Dr. Yumkella, Dr. Denis Bright and former Dr. Joe Demby (former vice president of the SLPP) has formed? From the look of things, these are all former SLPP members. Would they bring on board smaller parties like the PMDC, PDP, UDM, ADP, UNPP, UP etc, etc?

    If they are unable to attract these other smaller parties, I would bet my purse that the Grand Coalition has just effectively handed the APC another victory in Sierra Leone 2018 National elections.

    It is simple to see that members of this Grand Coalition are those who are disgruntled with the SLPP. Many think they have been marginalized by the current players in the SLPP. So in effect they have one goal in common, that is to split the SLPP votes.

    I have not seen any member or any move from them to show that they have attracted responsible people from the incumbent who actually stands to win another election as they control all the state institutions that conduct and secure general elections. Even the disgruntled former VP of the APC Alhaji Sam Sumana has distanced himself from this Yumkella’s Coalition.

    I have never seen members of the opposition forming a grand coalition with another opposition party when the intended target should be the Ruling Government. I am not certain that Dr. Yumkella’s Coalition will attract many people from the APC that would impact the APC’s chances; rather, it is the SLPP’s Chances that they will diminish.

    They continue to attract much more from the SLPP, especially those who will not be happy with who will be eventually chosen as the party Flag Bearer after the party’s forthcoming convention next month.

    I think the new Grand Coalition is another offshoot of the SLPP just like the PMDC. Time will tell if I am wrong.

  6. My first encounter with Dr. Kandeh Yumkella was at a fund-raising dance of the Pujehun District Association. He was invited as a keynote speaker, and at the end of his speech it was evident to everyone in the hall that he was very intelligent and charismatic.

    Most often, at occasions such as this, the speeches can be very laborious, but Mr. Yumkella’s speech or for a better word, lecture, was revered by all and sundry. When I heard later that he was thinking about running for the Presidency, I was very excited. I was even more excited when I learnt that he was running under the Sierra Leone Peoples Party.

    Notwithstanding the scandal regarding his SLPP membership, I continued to pray for his success, however, I was greatly disappointed when he announced the suspension of his campaign bid for the presidency under the SLPP. He cited various reasons for this and it sounded reasonable.

    But I was taken aback when I heard people in the KKY team peddle the same comments made by other defectors from the SLPP that the party is a “mende man “ party and no one is capable of taking the party to State House except if the person hails from the North. This is the same argument that was preferred by many during a similar tussle then, between lawyer Charles Margai and the late Tejan Kabba.

    If the SLPP is truly a “mende man Party” why would they forgo one of theirs for Late Tejan Kabba, who is not a mende man. To me, their magnanimity in this case goes a long way to dispel this notion.
    I am going back to history in an effort to enlighten folks about this long running lies peddled against a party that has been anything but tribal.

    In fact, it should be noted that our party is very inclusive and that is why we have the likes of Alpha Timbo, Alie Kabba, and a host of others who are not Mende men running for the leadership position. And this cannot be said of the APC party, which manufactured this myth.

    The problem I have with Mr. Yumkella is that he and some of his followers have perpetuated this myth. The hardcore support for Maada Bio by most party supports is borne out of the fact that the people accused of owing the party have been marginalized for quite a long time.

    They have been very accommodating to the party in the past but have very little to show in terms of infrastructural developments. If you do not believe me, visit Kenema and Makeni today, and both cities tell a different tale. The one that is nurtured has very little to contribute to the development of the country whilst the other that is the bread basket of the nation lies in ruins.

    In my opinion, Yumkella failed to distance himself from the failures of Tejan Kabba, who turned against his constituents and marginalized the very base that made his presidency possible. I think he had a better chance running with the SLPP than any other party. But I may eat my words.

    I wish Kandeh Yumkella would have stayed in the party to make a case for himself and to convince his constituents that he will be different from his predecessor. I do wish him well in his endeavor and hope that in time he will see it fit to return to the party.

    My plea to all Sierra Leoneans is come Election Day to vote for any party other than the APC. The APC party does not have anything to offer our country but degradation and poverty.

  7. Go for it Dr Yumkella. Students and scholars of Shakespeare are au fait with the quote, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”.

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