Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 February 2017
Sierra Leone’s opposition SLPP party has made a Herculean start in reducing the 60% national electoral majority gained by the ruling APC in 2012, after a tough show of strength and unity at last Saturday’s by-election in Bumbuna, Tonkolili district.
The by-election came about as the result of the death of sitting APC Member of Parliament – Dr. Taworo Ansumana Bockarie Tara-Koroma of Sambaia Chiefdom, representing Constituency 066. Dr. Koroma passed away on the 16th of December, 2016, and was buried on the 9th January, 2017.
In 2007 APC won the seat after polling 11,602 votes and SLPP 2,972, with a turnout of 15,513.
But in 2012 the turnout was even larger – 21,899. Dr. Taworo Ansumana Bockarie Tara-Koroma of Sambaia Chiefdom won the seat for the ruling APC with a much larger majority, after polling 88% of the votes cast – 19,318, and SLPP trailing second with only 1,856 (8.4%) – losing over one thousand of the votes won in 2007.
That was in 2012, and the opposition SLPP has realised the errors of its ways. After years of bitter political wrangling and jostling for the leadership of the party, and a peace deal brokered by Alie Kabba just two weeks ago, SLPP supporters have every reason to celebrate last Saturday’s by-election result, increasing their votes in Tonkolili by almost 3,000 votes, thus closing the gap massively on the ruling APC.
Ruling APC polled 7,393 votes and SLPP – 4,678 votes. Turnout was 12,829.
Speaking to rank and file members of the SLPP and party chiefs, one gets the sense of a party that is stepping forward into 2018 with renewed hope of defeating the ruling APC at the general and presidential elections, slated for 7th of March, 2018.
There is little doubt now that after ten years of poor governance, financial mismanagement, corruption, poor leadership, and lack of respect for constitutionality, law and order, the poor people of Sierra Leone are fed up of the ruling APC and are now ready for change in 2018.
What the SLPP must do now is to consolidate the peace brokered by Alie Kabba, involving all of the presidential aspirants and stakeholders of the party.
They must ensure that all of the parties to the communiqué signed two weeks ago, abide by the terms of the peace agreement.
But most importantly, SLPP must internalise the fact that with peace and unity of purpose, the party’s march to State House and parliament in 2018 is unstoppable. (Photo: Alie Kabba talking peace).
The winning mathematical formula for SLPP’s success at the national polls in 2018 is plain and simple: SLPP must replicate the result achieved in Tonkolili – the heartland of the ruling APC , across all of the northern constituencies – with at least 40% of the votes in their favour.
They must also win 90% of the southern and eastern constituencies, and 50% of the total votes in the capital Freetown. SLPP cannot afford to sit on their peace laurels and continue to take the people of Sierra Leone for granted.
The people of Sierra Leone may be fed up with the ruling APC, but SLPP must win the people’s trust and confidence that they are a government in waiting. And this challenge can only be achieved through hard work, consolidation of the peace and a business-like approach to politics.
Speaking to the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas, after the announcement of last Saturday’s by-election result by the National Electoral Commission, Alie Kabba sounded confident about the prospect for the SLPP and the party’s newly found unity and peace. This is what he said:
“Although the APC candidate was declared winner, the relatively strong performance of the SLPP candidate is a reflection of mass discontent and yearning for change, even in areas that political observers consider to be safe stronghold of the ruling APC.
“It is crystal clear that a united SLPP stands a very good chance of defeating the APC by significantly increasing our margin of support in the northwest and drastically decreasing the margin of support for the APC in the southeast.
“I am confident that lessons learned from Constituency 066 will inform our strategic approach to building the pillars of SLPP campaign infrastructure in all regions of the country.”
According to local media, ruling APC party chiefs stormed Bumbuna to help their candidate win the seat. They included: Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh; the Northern Regional Chairman of the APC – Buya Kamara; APC Tonkolili District Chairman – Dr Minkailu Bah; Minister of State in the Office of the Vice President – Mohamed Alie Bah; and Resident Minister North – Alie Kamara.
The opposition SLPP put on a show of strength last Saturday, with an impressive show of unity by their presidential aspirants and executive officers. On hand to woo voters were: the Deputy Chairman – Dr. Prince Harding; Julius Maada Bio, Alie Kabba, Ambassador Umaru Bond Wurie, Alpha Timbo, Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara, and Dr. Abass Bundu.