Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 April 2016
After his landslide victory at the polls last Saturday in London, the newly elected chairman of the official UK and Ireland branch of the opposition SLPP – Mr. Ansu Sillah, spoke to the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph, about his hopes and challenges ahead for the SLPP.
Mr. Sillah describes himself as a unifier, a true democrat and a strong believer in constitutionality, the rule of law and civil liberty.
Commenting on the serious rift that exists in the party here in the UK and back home in Sierra Leone, Sillah said that he intends to genuinely and assiduously reach out to all members of the UK and Ireland branch of the SLPP, so that they can all unite and work for the common goals of the party.
This is what he told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
How do you feel about winning the chairmanship?
Sillah: My feelings about winning the Chairmanship of this noble and premier SLPP branch are mixed for obvious reasons. Those feelings range from ecstasy, through sadness to anger. But with a huge dose of hope.
I am ecstatic at being offered an opportunity to serve my SLPP UKI family and hopefully SLPP at large. In my estimation, there is no greater honour than service to your people.
I am saddened by the depth and degree of mistrust and gaping, festering fissures and entrenched factions within the rank and file of the party, from London to Central Europe; USA to Freetown.
I am angry at the plethora of missed opportunities for reasonable and amicable resolution of the issues that have culminated in this dire and abysmal state of affairs in SLPP body politic.
The above notwithstanding, I remain hopeful that the best days of the SLPP UKI are still ahead of us. we shall traverse these seeming turbulent waters, if we focus on our fundamental commonalities and less on the trivialities that divide us.
What does your victory mean for the party here in the UK in particular and Sierra Leone in general?
Sillah: I can’t presume to forecast what my victory mean for my party. What I do know however, is that we ran and won on a platform of honesty, integrity, respect for and fidelity to constitutional order, and resource mobilisation, but with concomitant fiscal prudence, unfettered accountability to and transparency with our membership, the dismantling of inimical vested interests, and restoring this great party to the core and noble values of “ONE COUNTRY, ONE PEOPLE”.
These may all be lofty, but they are achievable goals that we intend to embed as standard and best practice in the SLPP UKI; and we shall be happy to share those ideas and practices with any other SLPP outfit.
Do you think Saturday’s election has helped to bring peace and galvanise the UK branch and the national party?
Sillah: Peace is usually a process and Saturday’s election was an event. It is our intention to use that event to contribute to peace building efforts in our branch.
Soon after the declaration of the election results on Saturday, I reached out to my brother on the other side, as a first step on a potentially arduous road to peace.
What happens now, as there are two parallel SLPP UKI executive committees as of yesterday, serving the SLPP UK members?
We are going to initiate a dialogue without any preconditions with our brothers, in order to resolve this impasse.
That said, the SLPP is a political outfit and as a modern political outfit it should embrace democratic values of plurality, where every view point is listened to and respected; have at its core – legitimacy, respect for due process and due diligence; and inherent self-determination as opposed to dictatorial impositions.
What are you going to do to help galvanise the SLPP and prepare the party for the big challenge ahead – winning the 2018 elections in Sierra Leone?
Sillah: At the core of galvanising and preparing the party for governance and electability is the UNITY of the party. It includes, but not limited to being united around the things we set out to do; but also, in how we execute them without rancour or recriminations.
I intend to genuinely and assiduously reach out to all my brothers and sisters in the UKI, so that we become UNITED and work for our common SLPP goals.
A major test in ensuring party unity will be what model is adopted for the conduct and execution of the pending Flag Bearer race.
As a branch party, we have a duty to ensure that whatever model or approach is adopted is CREDIBLE, FREE AND FAIR, with a level playing field for all, such that the outcome is embraced and owned by all.
No one person should pursue or gain any undue advantage.