Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 January 2017
It is now over ten days since Julius Maada Bio – one of the leading presidential aspirants of the opposition SLPP and the party’s 2012 presidential candidate, made an appeal to the other presidential aspirants of the party with whom he is at war, for peace dialogue. But no one has accepted his offer.
It seems the wounds of years of bitter struggle for the leadership of the party and Bio’s unorthodox approach to politics, have caused far greater damage to his relationship with his fellow presidential aspirants than previously thought.
Bio has been blamed for the violence and breakdown in discipline and order that have recently been witnessed in the party.
His supporters have been directly blamed for the disruption of meetings organised at the party head office by party chairman Karpen.
The acrimonious court battles which started five years ago and are still ongoing, seem to have their nexus in the Bio leadership struggle.
Is it possible for those he has previously refused to sit and talk with, to now accept his peace offer?
Those opposing Bio’s second attempt at the party’s presidential candidacy, are convinced that no matter how many times Bio stands for the presidency, he will never succeed in winning more than the 30% the party managed to poll at the 2012 elections.
But Bio and his supporters disagree. They are convinced that this time around – in 2018, he will defeat the incumbent ruling APC, despite losing slightly more votes in 2012 than his party did in 2007.
There are about nine other candidates vying for the SLPP presidential candidacy, most of whom have formed an alliance to counter Bio’s control of large sections of the party.
And it is unlikely that Bio’s call for peace dialogue with the alliance will be heeded.
Two weeks ago he said he is appealing to his “brothers and sisters in the alliance to dialogue and have peace in the party for the sake of the people and country,” and that he was “available any day and any time to dialogue.”
But no one took up his offer.
There is too much water under the bridge and most importantly, several members of the alliance view Bio’s call as self-aggrandisement – a ploy to clean-up his image and present himself to the members of the SLPP as the peace-maker and therefore the preferred candidate for the presidency.
Five days ago, Bio issued further peace overtures. But this time, to the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), asking them to help broker peace talks between his faction and the alliance.
This is what he wrote to the PPRC:
January 19, 2017
Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC)
Dear Mrs. Moseray,
Call for Peace Meetings in the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)
I will like to take this opportunity to thank you for your role in supervising the conduct of lower level elections and mediating the many conflicts in the SLPP. As you may know, there are two new dimensions of the problem in the Party.
First, the results from 39 constituencies have been challenged in the High Court on grounds of allegations of irregularities.
Second, there is a fundamental intra-executive impasse between the Chairman and Leader on one side and the other executive members on the other.
As statutory regulator of Political Parties, I will like to call on your office to mediate on the said matters within the Party. I firmly believe that political matters are best settled in house rather than in court.
The issues of expulsions and suspensions as well as related matters can also be subjects of discussion.
Additionally, I propose two separate peace meetings. The first one can be held before the National Party Conference to address concerns of persons who feel aggrieved, including Flag Bearer aspirants, MPs, Ex-MPs, executive members and the other stakeholders.
The second forum should be organised after the Conference. The post-Conference meeting will be meant to address post-election reconciliation.
It will essentially include persons who participated in elections at lower levels and others who may participate in the election of national officers as well those who may have participated in the first meeting.
The second meeting can even be organised at regional levels to allow for greater participation.
Finally, I will encourage the PPRC to coordinate all internal peace initiatives in order to avoid multiplicity of efforts.
Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio
Aspirant for the 2017 SLPP Flagbearer Election
Copy: Commissioners, PPRC
All SLPP NEC members (END of Letter)
But will the PPRC once again get involved in a protracted conflict and deeply divided SLPP, to help find peace?
With just few months remaining before the party hold its national convention to elect its presidential candidate, many in the party would say that its simply too late for Bio to be extending an olive branch now, after he himself had in the past two years or more refused to meet and discuss with members of the alliance.
Perhaps there is a case to be made for the co-existence of the two factions going into the convention with their preferred candidates.
This would mean that the alliance in good time may reach a consensus as to who will stand as their preferred candidate against Maada Bio and the other non-alliance candidates. Because, any attempt at peace talks now is likely to be seen as a forge that could seriously affect the smooth running of the convention.
Equally, there is the risk of those losing the leadership election, walking away from the convention hall disgruntled and vengeful.
Will the losers support and work with the winner to go forth and contest against the ruling APC in 2018?
I view Abdul Dunkay’s comments as very unfortunate, as I can assert that he is not a true member of the SLPP. I will challenge any member of the AAA to face the membership at various district and let them see how popular they are.
There is no peace within the AAA, and they cannot even speak from one front. Present one candidate AAA and speak from one front.
Bio is not the first candidate to aspire more than one time to become president. Ask EBK. and even the present president of Ghana H.E Kofi. Let us give peace a chance and allow the will of the majority to carry the day. Just my take.
Obviously, the conflicts in the SLPP will tantamount to the party losing to the APC. In so many circles, Bio’s supporters have been blamed for brewing conflicts in the SLPP, obstructing meetings, molesting elders, etc.
However, what I find very disturbing is the notion of a Flag Bearer (FB) Alliance. Why team up? And against who?
Why won’t they all individually contest and in the end form an alliance to support the elected FB? Or are they teaming up against Bio? Hmmm this alliance stuff is a hard sell. My take!
The call for unity in the SLPP from Maada Bio is far too late. And to many party faithful, such narrative is inert and sloppy. The division has been left so long that it has almost destroyed the chances of the party winning the 2018 elections – probably even beyond.
For the fact that many people in the party view him as the trouble-maker, with his belief that he is more popular in the SLPP. He should have called the truce many months ago even before him returning back to Sierra Leone.
I personally, believe that Mr. Bio is calling for peace for three reasons:
Firstly, he has realised that he alone cannot take on the APC without a concerted and holistic campaign with his party northern colleagues.
Secondly, he alone cannot foot the bill of running a successful campaign against the APC with the government machinery in their disposal.
Thirdly, Mr Bio is having sleepless nights over what the future holds on the pending convention in Kenema. Because, without concrete talks to resolve the present animosity within the party hierarchy, the outcome of the Kenema convention to select the party flagbearer is doomed.
Bio is just going to waste our time. This man is a fall guy. Who in their right frame of mind would ever trust Bio.
He has lied to the people of our beloved country on numerous occasions, which his so called supporters are trying to sweep under the carpet.
He has lied just about everything. Let us ask him how he acquired his military titles and how he acquired his doctorate degree, which university and in which field of study. Because he has never done this.
Let him give us the name of the university and under the freedom of information act I am going to personally pay for it and post it to you Mr editor and all social media outlets for the world to see.
How can we trust someone like this to lead our country. No it will never happen, not in my name. If he can tell lies like this, why on earth are we encouraging him to such heights.
The other problem is that this man is penniless. Let us ask him to provide the country with proof of his sustenance. He has stolen the country’s money before and I find it hard to understand the thinking of us Sierra Leoneans.
Why are we so naive and foolish? Both the APC and SLPP parties are guilty of killing those whom we should celebrate and celebrate those whom we should kill.
The world is changing and it is changing fast. This man is not even eloquent in speech. And can someone like this lead our beloved country.
My dear brother Abdul Dunkay, in view of the mishaps within the party, this is not the time to apportion blame on one person only. Except we all want to bypass or freeze the truth simply because we are untruthful, if not, you and I know that nobody is fame and popular than Maada within the SLPP.
Even if you put all the other aspirants together, public acceptance is still in favor of Maada than they. Why are we violently violating the truth and the peace of SLPP?
Have we really asked ourselves as to what is responsible for the infighting and mishaps within the party? Many, including the aspirants have not asked themselves this questions, and that is why they have solution to the current political imbroglio in the party.
1. The formation of All Aspirant Alliance (AAA) was just too bad for the unity and progress of the party. This AAA muzzled the powers and functions of the national officers, the SLPP Members of Parliament, the Legal team, elder’s council, and other entities.
2. KKY movement is fomenting more chaos than any other factions.
3. Also, remember that KKY disowned the SLPP years back. Electing him as SLPP standard bearer would be more harmful and injurious to SLPP than anything.