Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 May 2015
Last minute frantic change of agenda for the national delegates conference of the ruling APC party of Sierra Leone, by the party executives yesterday, may have averted an ‘all-out internecine war’, but has surely postponed the inevitable mutiny that will tear the party apart before the next elections in 2018
According to a senior ruling party insider, President Koroma was deeply angered by the decision of party executives to call yesterday’s extraordinary conference, whilst he was away in Washington, attending the World Bank summit.
What many political analysts found puzzling, is that the short notice sent out to party members inviting them to the conference, made no mention of the Ebola crisis as the agenda item.
But it became very clear a few days ago, that there had been a last minute change of agenda from the scheduled debate about the president’s unconstitutional behaviour.
It is also obvious that president Koroma did not endorse the decision by certain factions of the party to convene an emergency conference, to discuss the constitutional crisis that he has caused, which has now left the country and party deeply divided.
Two months ago, President Koroma made an undemocratic and unilateral decision to sack the country’s elected vice president, following the unconstitutional decision of the party’s national advisory council to expel vice president Sam Sumana from the party on grounds of gross misconduct.
But lawyers for the beleaguered vice president, civil liberty groups, and constitutional lawyers argue that president Koroma’s decision is unconstitutional and violates the principles upon which Sierra Leone’s post war democracy rests.
This matter is now before Supreme Court Judges who are being asked by lawyers and the opposition SLPP, to impose an injunction stopping the newly handpicked vice president Foh from falsely ‘parading’ as the elected vice president.
But president Koroma is digging his heels. And not only is his appointed vice president refusing to budge, he is busy consolidating his power and presenting himself across the country as the legitimate heir apparent of president Koroma. (Photo Below: President Koroma and his new blue-eyed vice president). How long will their new found love and marriage of convenience last?
This has deeply offended some senior party grandees, who in the last five years have invested a lot of political capital and juxtapositioned themselves to take over the mantle of leadership of the APC party, when Koroma steps down next year.
Most prominent of these senior party grandees who now feel left out in the cold and sorely bruised by Koroma’s decision to appoint Foh, are the information minister – Alpha Kanu and presidential adviser – I.B Kargbo.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph is reliably informed that the Port Loko/Temne caucus of the APC party, are deeply offended by Koroma’s decision to marginalise presidential hopeful Kanu. (Photo Above: The three most powerful men in the ruling APC today – Minkailu Mansaray, Koroma and Foh, at yesterday’s party meeting singing the party’s communist song).
And yesterday’s emergency conference is believed to have been demanded by members of the Temne caucus, to discuss the president’s unilateral decision to appoint his new vice president, without due constitutional and legal process. (Photo left: President Koroma and the frozen-out information minister Kanu).
But from the last minute change of the conference agenda to instead talk about the Ebola crisis, it is obvious that President Koroma and his Chinese Ambassador Foh, were having none of this political shenanigans, which sources in the party say could have caused a serious riot at the Bintumani Conference Hall.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph believes that anti – Foh factions within the party, were planning to use yesterday’s emergency meeting to force a vote of no-confidence on both President Koroma and Foh, if the debate about president Koroma’s unconstitutional behaviour had been allowed to take place.
Observers say that hundreds of party rank and file members that had turned up at the meeting, from across the country, left the conference hall in Aberdeen very disappointed. (Photo: Disappointed APC party members at the meeting yesterday, encouraged and allowed by the president to break the Ebola state of emergency laws, which forbid the gathering of people to avoid risk of transmitting the virus).
They felt betrayed and disgruntled that their constitutional right has once again been trampled upon by Koroma’s executive decision to stifle free speech and open debate.
An all-out internecine war may have been cleverly and quickly averted yesterday at Bintumani, by choosing to talk about the Ebola crisis instead of the president’s unconstitutional behaviour, but the icebergs still remain as the rudderless ship heads perilously close to disaster.