Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 March 2018:
As the presidential runoff election campaign and horse trading intensify in Sierra Leone, the ruling APC has pulled off a master-stroke by today announcing that the Supreme Court case brought by one of its supporters – Mr David Fornah, challenging Dr Yumkella’s right to contest the elections, has now been dropped – ‘nolle prosequi’.
Reporting yesterday, the Sierra Leone Telegraph said that Yumkella’s decision to remain neutral and not supporting any of the two parties – APC and SLPP, will pave the way for the ruling APC to see its way clear to withdraw its Supreme Court case.
While this announcement does not come as a surprise, what remains unclear now is whether this decision will change the position of Dr Yumkella and his NGC party with regards to the runoff.
Though controversial, it may not be impossible for Dr Yumkella as an individual citizen to now throw his weight behind the ruling APC’s bid for the presidency, while his NGC party’s official line is to remain neutral.
Speaking in a video recorded message to his supporters last week, Yumkella said: “The NGC will be in the runoff”.
It is not clear what form the NGC’s presence in the runoff next will take, but today’s decision by the ruling APC may well be very important in that decision.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph is awaiting a response from Dr Yumkella, regarding this breaking news story from the Awareness Times newspaper this afternoon.
Speaking to Awareness Times Newspaper, an APC spokesman said that “the APC party is looking forward to having Sierra Leone’s internationally recognised and eloquent son of the soil – the Honourable Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella seat and deliberate issues in parliament for the common good.”
According to Awareness Times, the spokesman said that the APC did not commence the Supreme Court action in the first place. He said that one of the APC party members did. “Now the APC has shown good faith to not only congratulate Parliamentarian-elect Alhaji Dr. Yumkella, but the APC as a party also wants it to be made known that it has no intention of filing any other papers in court to challenge the election of Alhaji Yumkella as the duly elected parliamentarian for Constituency 62 in Kambia.
“Rather, the elected APC MPs are already looking forward to working with all elected NGC MPs, C4C MPs and SLPP MPs in Parliament for the common good of Mama Salone,” the APC spokesman told Awareness Times this afternoon.
In his statement announcing the withdrawal of his court action against Yumkella, the petitioner – Mr David Fornah said:
“I took the case against Dr. Yumkella to court because I had no way of knowing if he was an American citizen. Now that he has shown that he voluntarily renounced his American citizenship since November 2017, there is no more need for my case so I instructed my solicitors to withdraw the case. I congratulate Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Yumkella as a duly elected parliamentarian from Kambia and I wish him well.”
But speaking to a senior NGC executive under anonymity for his response to the APC party’s decision to nolle prosequi the Yumkella Supreme Court case, there is a sense this matter is not yet over. “This issue of Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenship being excluded from contesting elections in this country is bigger than Dr Yumkella.
“Its an issue that affects hundreds of thousands of our citizens that are living and working abroad, who may want to come home to contribute to nation building politically. We must remove all legislative and constitutional barriers that will impede them from exercising their birthright,” he told the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph put this concern to a senior APC spokesman this afternoon, who said that: “Should the ruling APC wins the presidency next Tuesday, our parliamentarians will support a Bill that makes it constitutionally acceptable for Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenship to contest parliamentary election, as well appointed to cabinet positions, but excluded from the presidential election. But this will be subject to the requirement of having lived in the country for the past twelve months”.
Many Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora, especially NGC supporters may welcome today’s development, though there will be others who will regard this decision as a cynical attempt by the ruling APC to win the support of Dr Yumkella, as the party faces the opposition SLPP at the runoff next Tuesday.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph will soon bring you Dr. Yumkella’s response to this development.