Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 March 2022:
In just over fifteen months’ time, the people of Sierra Leone will go to the polls to elect a new president or renew President Bio’s mandate to serve a second and final term in office. (Photo above: Mohamed Konneh, NEC Chief Electoral Commissioner).
The country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) says it will start registering eligible Sierra Leoneans from 3rd September 2022 to 4th October, 2022 in preparation for Presidential, Parliamentary, Local Councils and Village Head elections taking place on 24th June next year. Paramount Chiefs elections for parliament are expected to take place on 20th May, 2023.
This news comes after the opposition last week accused the ruling SLPP party and the President of trying to violate the Constitution by moving the elections to 2024, using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse.
But these accusations have been denied by the NEC Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mohamed Konneh, who said that the elections scheduled for June 2023 will not be postponed.
Last month, leaders of fifteen opposition parties started formal talks to explore the importance of establishing a collective effort aimed at unseating the ruling SLPP, whom they say have wasted four years in office as the economy continues to slide backwards and cost of living worsened.
The Consortium of Opposition Political Parties (COPP), which brings together almost all of the opposition parties together, is currently considering fielding one presidential candidate to contest against President Bio next year.
But this strategy is not going to be easy, as there are at least three seriously competing candidates within the COPP that are aspiring to become President, including the main opposition APC’s 2018 Presidential candidate – Dr Samura Kamara who lost narrowly to Julius Maada Bio in 2018. (Photo: Samura Kamara has been endorsed by former President Koroma to take the APC party into the 2023 elections).
There is Chief Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana, founder of the Coalition for Change (C4C) Party who won all 8 parliamentary seats in Kono in 2018, after he was sacked by President Ernest Bai Koroma as Vice President of Sierra Leone and expelled from the APC.
Sam Sumana is still highly regarded by sections of the APC party as a serious contender for the APC party’s 2023 presidential flagbearership, provided he can dissolve his C4C party and integrate into the main opposition APC.
Presidential hopeful, Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella is also a strong contender for the COPP’s 2023 single flagbearership. He comes with decades of leadership and industrial experience from the United Nations where he served as Under Secretary to the Head of the UN.
Yumkella is the 2018 presidential candidate for the National Grand Coalition (NGC), a party he helped to form in 2017, just few months before elections were held and despite legal battles by the APC to exclude him from contesting the 2018 elections – claiming he had dual citizenship.
Yumkella’s NGC party went on to win 5 parliamentary seats in the Kambia district in 2018, the party’s political stronghold which President Bio must win in 2023, along with other key seats in the north of the country if he is to remain president of Sierra Leone.
Recognising the importance of the Kandeh Yumkella “King Making” factor, President Bio is considering offering a senior cabinet position – if not the Vice Presidency to Dr Yumkella, in return for cross-carpeting to the ruling SLPP to help Bio stay in office.
But there is still confusion as to whether Yumkella is considering President Bio’s offer, despite a public statement by the Chairman of the NGC party – Dr Dennis Bright, saying that Yumkella will not be joining the SLPP.