Sierra Leone opposition SLPP UKI paves way for fresh elections

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 January 2016

Free Alie kabba London6

Yesterday’s meeting of the members of the SLPP UK branch was at risk of being turned into a serious fracas that could have led to the breaking up of the organisation. (Photo: Cross-section of SLPP members peacefully attending yesterday’s meeting in London, UK).

A handful of members of the party, believed to be supporters of Julius Maada Bio – the former SLPP presidential candidate for the 2012 presidential election in Sierra Leone, brought the meeting to a standstill, after they failed in their attempt to stop the meeting from going ahead.

The meeting was called so that the executive officers elected in 2013, but whose term of office expired in 2015, would hand over administration of the party affairs to the Council of Elders, in accordance with the constitution.

So what caused the chaos in what was otherwise expected to be a friendly and orderly meeting?

On the agenda was a proposition to elect an electoral committee of no more than 5 people from the membership present at the meeting, who will supervise and oversee the next election of executive officers, which is expected to take place in the next eight weeks.

jimmy batiloBut the outgoing Chairman – Jimmy Batilo Songa (Photo) – a strong supporter of Julius Maada Bio, was insisting on being a member of the electoral committee, contrary to the constitution.

This did not go down well with members attending the meeting.

According to eyewitness reports, the argument that ensued over what was seen by many as the outgoing chairman wanting to maintain control of the affairs of the party, and in particular the conduct of the forthcoming executive officers election, was a major factor in yesterday’s public row.

However, it is understood that the row started when security personnel from a private security company in London, contracted by the outgoing chairman Batilo Songa turned up at the meeting, in anticipation of what he said were thugs – mainly foreign nationals planning to cause chaos at the meeting.

But members of the outgoing executives, say that his decision to contract a private security firm to guard the meeting was a unilateral decision that they were not informed about or privy to such decision. In consequence, members of the party present at the meeting and several of the outgoing executives, refused to allow the private security officers into the meeting.

The argument that ensued degenerated into a full blown row and someone then called in the London police.

Maada Bio - Brigadier2The outgoing chairman said he felt threatened and then walked out of the meeting before he could officially hand over to the Council of Elders, an act many saw as a ploy to avoid giving up his office in order to continue to protect the interest of Julius Maada Bio (Photo: The former military officer wanting to become president of Sierra Leone, but accused of promoting violence and division within the opposition SLPP).

The decision of the outgoing chair – Jimmy Batilo Songa to walk out of the meeting in anger or otherwise, did not prevent the meeting from continuing. The meeting went ahead and members of the outgoing executives handed over peacefully to the Council of Elders in accordance with the constitution.

Verification of the membership register should have been done by the outgoing financial secretary and secretary general in collaboration with the electoral committee at yesterday’s meeting. But the Sierra Leone Telegraph has been informed that this will now be done at a future date.

kandeh Yumkella in London7Members of the Kandeh Yumkella Movement who are also members of the SLPP, said this in a statement to correct what they see as an attempt to embroil the KKY supporters in yesterday’s row (Photo: Chairman of the UK KKY Movement – Dr. Blango):

“There is a breaking news report which states that the meeting was organised by KKY supporters. This should be corrected to give people the correct picture and for the general public to realise that this is an issue between some rogues who are supporters of Maada Bio and the entire membership in the UK.

“The meeting today is a general membership meeting of SLPP-UKI. It is supposed to be a handing over meeting that should allow the expired UK&I executive to handover power to the Council of Elders as stipulated in the constitution.

“The outgoing Chairman wants to have control of the agenda and they came out with an agenda for the meeting in which the chairman (Batilo Songa) wanted to preside over the elections of the Electoral Committee members. His interest in this is quite obvious. An opportunity to preside over the elections of Electoral Committee members will give him the undue advantage to only pick nominations from the side of the Paopas.

“There has been hue and cry about this from members before the meeting. The Council of Elders met yesterday and it is reported that they sent out their official position on the matter, stating that the agenda be revised to ensure that the Chairman plays no more role after the handing over.

“There is the strong feeling also that the outgoing Chairman wants to use the opportunity also to delay his illegal stay in power to give him the opportunity to attend the forthcoming SLPP convention in Sierra Leone.

“His walking out of the meeting was deliberate to achieve his hidden objectives. He did not have the support of the Secretary General and some other executive members on this. Already, the Vice Chairman had resigned on the grounds that their executive term has come to an end. The intransigent chairman thought he could manipulate his ways. He was robustly resisted by the general membership.”

Last night, Mustapha Wai of Mamba TV caught up with both the outgoing chairman Jimmy Batilo and the outgoing secretary general Ansu Momoh to discuss what took place. Take a listen to the interviews below:

Jimmy Batilo speaks to Mamba TV:

 

 

Ansu Momoh Speaks to Mamba TV:

5 Comments

  1. Mr Sannoh, your best bet to clinch the presidency is Kandeh Yomkellah. He hardly carries any baggage, and as far as domestic politics are concerned he is Mr clean. Whether or not he will allow himself to be soiled subsequently should be cast to the realm of conjecture.

    I agree, something seems to have altered in Maada Bio, demonstrated by his recent visit to Sierra Leone. He actually visited President Koroma and had some nice things to say about the President.

    To me , it underlined political maturity, that even though he was still opposed to the President, his venom should be refined words, acceptable to society at large. Blocking the President’s motorcade, for example, is not the right way; it only ignites violence.

    It is also quite possible that having lived in Britain for years, Maada Bio has come to see how Politics are practiced in a civilised way. He has probably even been shocked out of his skin to learn that in certain instances the government actually briefs leaders of the opposition behind the scenes to bring a matter to a close, especially if it involves national security.

    Bio’s northern support may not be all that great but I don’t think it is zero. His role in toppling Momoh and the old A.P.C. in 1992 seemed to be peripheral according to the account of the late Tom Nyuma [may the Almighty Allah/God grant him perpetual peace] who engineered most of the moves, but just being part of the plot should direct some respect toward Bio.

    He helped shatter the myth of A.P.C. invincibility, and sent Momoh and co scurrying underground and into exile.

    The ultimate success of the coup, which gave Momoh the jitters , was when people poured out on to the streets to welcome the young soldiers, some of them young enough to be Mohmoh’s grand children. To me the coup did not have the label of north, south, east or west, but that of freeing people from years of misrule and vindictiveness.

    During that period, innocent people lost their lives, including those executed, like Dr Fornah , on fabricated charges of treason.

    My point is that even though Bio does not have widespread support in the north, there are still pockets of northerners who still remember Dr Fornah and Ibrahim Taqui.

    The semblance of democracy which we currently enjoy is due in large part to that fateful day in 1992 When the old A.P.C. were brought to their knees. This is why Dr Yumkellah can today go all over the country to state his case for the presidency. We are getting somewhere, but let us take our memories along.

    I am not a Bio supporter. My origins are northern. I was born in the west-end of Freetown – Wilkinson Road/Lumley to be exact. I speak the Temene Language fluently. I just stand up for the truth. Tribe and region mean nothing to me, thanks to the little education that I have.

  2. Mr Sannoh you need to take a serious reality check about Maada Bio’s chances of being voted president of salone. I dont want to interfere in SLPP’s affairs, but as a salonean I must say this.

    SLPP can elect him as their flagbearer because I would guess the majority of SLPP members are mendes. But why do you think we northerners will vote for a brutal military dictator who was part of a murderous rebellious junta is beyond me.

    We northerners accepted the TRC report but we will never accept Maada Bio as our president. He denies taking part in killing our sons of the soil but we dont believe him. We believe he knows what happened to our sons of the soil.

    For the sake of peace in salone we have put that history behind us. But we will never forget the loss he and his renegade khaki boys caused us.

    The 30% of southerners that make up the entire electorate in salone can continue to vote for him at national elections. But rest assured he will continue to get the same results each time – 30%.

    We northerners are not tribalist. We have no problem voting for a southerner who is good for the country. Victor Foh is a southerner and we love him because he is a good man with a good heart. But not Maada Bio the junta rebellious leader. No no no.

    So you see Mr Sannoh, you can continue to fantasize about Maada being at state House as much as you want, and you being his bag carrier. Good luck.

  3. No matter how people of Sierra Leone feel about the politics of Sierra Leone today, it is just very important to arrive at the conclusion that it is about time for the SLPP to win the General Election and form the next government.

    The next president will be Julius Maada Bio, because this young man has demonstrated very high level of political maturity than any of the SLPP flag-bearer aspirants vying for the post.

    The criticisms that are flowing from the side are not bad, as this is the nature of politics which all politicians are opened to face before and during their reign of power.

    The same people who are criticising will be the first to come round to congratulate him. We have seen this kind of behaviour in the past.

    “Maada Bio, when you get to state house, please don’t forget about me. May God bless you in your endeavours.”

    • Mr Sannoh your appeal to Mr Bio not to forget you IF he gets to State House is brazen and shameful, but not surprising. This is the main reason why Bio represents a clear and present danger to Sierra Leone.

      This is not the politics of change, but of Our Time. It is rooted in the idea of South Eastern hegemony and it is nothing more than a bunch of opportunist with failed or no career prospects, seeking to use divisive and violent means to force Bio on Sierra Leone.

      Last night the lights went out in Paopaville’s London base as it would be switched off every where.

      You are better off signing up to a skills training programme or go back to school. Dont pin your hopes on that job.

  4. But what’s new? SLPP are doomed. They are so fragmented so much that they cannot even organise a simple meeting without factional fighting, suspicion and bellicosity. Are these the people who want to lead Sierra Leone?

    The greatest beneficiary of SLPP in-fighting is APC, who must be praying very hard for the same scene to be replayed until the next presidential election, by which time SLPP will be so exhausted and very unsteady on their legs that they just stare as APC brings them down for the count.

    They will enter the room known in boxing as the half-dream room, where alligators play the saxophone and monkeys play the guitar. The sight is quite mesmerizing, leading one to forget where one is, until the count of ten. And the fight is over.

    No doubt, SLPP will protest and complain that they are the victim of a faster count. Well, in the half-dream room time stretches very slowly, especially when on top of everything else, one sees one’s late grand mother offering him some well cooked pepper soup.

    As a people, we tend to equate high academic achievements with sound leadership qualities and judgement. This is not true, it never has been. If it were, SLPP would be on the right path with the party infested with doctorate holders.

    History is full of leaders with just secondary school education, but who have left their mark on the world forever. Winston Churchill was not a doctorate holder, Joseph Stalin [whose atrocities are well documented] was not a doctorate holder and Siaka Stevens was not a doctorate holder in a real sense.

    As much as I politically detested Siaka Stevens, he had enviable leadership qualities. Had he directed those leadership qualities to the advancement of Sierra Leone, we would have been a first world nation by now. But he was too power hungry and corrupt, which blinded him to everything else.

    I believe it’s about time SLPP handed the organisation of the party over to the women at Kroo town Road market who, with their acute common sense will do a far better job in reshaping the party and position it to face APC in all spheres.

    I am neither APC nor SLPP. I tend to go for Charles Margai’s PMDC because I want to see a complete change in the political direction of the country, where the two major parties are firmly on the sidelines. There is no difference between them.

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