Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 April 2014
After months of infighting and much acrimony, the UK and Ireland branch of Sierra Leone’s main opposition political party – the SLPP, yesterday elected the executives that will help the national party in Freetown, win the 2018 general elections.
But there were two ‘SLPP UK branch’ elections held in London yesterday, by two separate groups, each claiming legitimacy.
On the one hand are the Maada Bio breakaway members of the SLPP UK&I branch, who met yesterday and elected fifteen executives. But this group is not recognised by the national executives in Freetown; hence their legitimacy has been questioned.
The group most members of the SLPP UK & I believe to be the official and legitimate branch, representing the party and recognised by the national executives in Sierra Leone, also held its election yesterday.
Confused? Well, you are not alone. Supporters and well wishers of the opposition SLPP both at home and in the diaspora are frustrated over the party’s continuing path to self annihilation.
Almost exactly three months ago – on the 23rd January, 2016, a meeting of the members of the SLPP UK branch descended into chaos, when it was sabotaged by a small faction of people who were refusing to hand over power and responsibility to an interim committee – a council of elders, after their term of office had long expired.
Members of the rebellious group, believed to be supporters of Julius Maada Bio (Photo) – the retired brigadier and SLPP presidential candidate for the 2012 presidential election in Sierra Leone, brought that meeting to a standstill on 23rd January 2016.
Their argument was that, as executive officers of the SLPP UK branch elected in 2013, but whose term of office had expired in 2015, they were entitled to stay in power until such time that the national party in Sierra Leone hold its executive and regional elections sometime this year.
And the outgoing Chairman – Jimmy Batilo Songa – a strong supporter of Julius Maada Bio, was insisting on being a member of the electoral committee contrary to the constitution. This did not go down well with most members attending the meeting last January.
According to eyewitness report, the argument that ensued over what was seen by many as the outgoing chairman wanting to maintain control of the affairs of the party, and in particular the conduct of the executive officers election, which took place yesterday, Saturday, 23 April 2016.
But the decision of the outgoing chair – Jimmy Batilo Songa (Photo) to walk out of the meeting in anger last January, did not prevent the handover meeting from continuing. The meeting went ahead and members of the outgoing executives handed over to the Council of Elders in accordance with the constitution.
A statement released by members of the Kandeh Yumkella Movement in London, who are also members of the SLPP UK branch, said this on the 24 January 2016, in response to the chaos that took place last January: “There is the strong feeling that the outgoing Chairman wants to use the opportunity also to delay his illegal stay in power to give him the opportunity to attend the forthcoming SLPP convention in Sierra Leone.
“His walking out of the meeting was deliberate to achieve his hidden objectives. He did not have the support of the Secretary General and some other executive members on this. Already, the Vice Chairman had resigned on the grounds that their executive term has come to an end. The intransigent chairman thought he could manipulate his ways. He was robustly resisted by the general membership.”
Fast forward to yesterday, 23rd April 2016, there was confusion, with two parallel SLPP elections taking place in London – one at Old Kent Road, believed to be the Maada Bio camp led by the former chairman – Jimmy Batilo; and another in Camberwell – the officially recognised members of the SLPP UK branch, with the support and endorsement of the SLPP national chairman in Freetown – Chief Kapen (Photo).
The officially recognised SLPP UK branch is a broad church of political opinions and tribes, which brings together people from across all four regions of Sierra Leone.
And recently, the membership of the officially recognised UK branch has grown quite significantly, with supporters of presidential aspirants of the SLPP that are of northern origin – such as Alpha Timbo, Kandeh Yumkella, and Alpha Wurie, joining the SLPP UK branch in large numbers.
Whilst a court hearing is expected next month to decide which of the two factions is the constitutional, bona fide UK and Ireland branch of the SLPP, the officially recognised group yesterday elected its new executive committee.
This is the full list of those elected:
CHAIRMAN – Ansu Sillah; DEPUTY CHAIRMAN – Hassan Koroma; SECRETARY-GENERAL – Ansu Momoh; ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL – Valma Penn-Timity; FINANCIAL SECRETARY / TREASURER – Mohamed Baimba Koroma; ASSISTANT FINANCIAL / TREASURER – Frank Johnny; ORGANISING SECRETARY – Mariama Gbao; ASSISTANT ORGANISING SECRETARY – Kate Sillah; INTERNAL AUDITOR 1 – Ansu V. Sonnah; INTERNAL AUDITOR 2 – Mohamed Komba Dauda; PUBLICITY & PROPAGANDA SECRETARY – Stephen Momoh-Gaya; ASSISTANT PUBLICITY & PROPAGANDA SECRETARY – Mohamed Sillah; WOMEN’S LEADER -Cecilia Kefue Banya; DEPUTY WOMEN’S LEADER – Mrs Elizabeth Hawah Mahdi; YOUNG GENERATION LEADER – Ishmael Bash Kamara; and SECRETARY GENERAL YOUNG GENERATION – Bangalie Kargbo.
Delivering his acceptance speech, the newly elected SLPP UK&I chairman – Mr. Ansu Sillah, thank members of the party for placing their confidence in him, saying that a win for the SLPP in Sierra Leone in 2018 is certain, once “we stand together, and hold our hands together.”
Mr. Sillah, speaking in a Camberwell community hall immediately after his landslide win yesterday, assured the cheering crowd that he was going to do what it takes to help bridge the gap that divides the SLPP UK&I branch.
According to eye witness report, last night’s election meeting was very exciting, with inspiring speeches by many members, including Mr Abu Sheriff – the Chairman of the SLPP Bristol chapter, and Vice Chair Council of Elders, SLPP UK&I.
The vote of thanks was given by Mr. Ansu Bakpoto Momoh, the newly elected Secretary General, SLPP UK&I, who expressed great optimism for the future of the SLPP party.
Good morning to ALL MY COUNTRY SIERRA LEONEANS. My name is Theresa. I am a NOBODY in Britain. I have great love for my Country Sierra Leone and I have been doing some little things to help in my own little way.
This morning, I watched and listened to a very disturbing video of the present state of the City. The one that touched me most is “that students are now asked to clean the rubbish from some areas, and I do not know if they will get paid. This is ABUSE. What about them going to School?
Anyway, I would like to Register as an SLPP MEMBER. Then I might have a VOICE. Thank you all for your great work.
Sometimes one remains baffled with the attitude and mindset of those who intend to reach the power corridors of the country. The continual infighting and internal vendetta in the SLPP party has no limits. When will this situation come to end? Parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018 are right at the corner.
When will the SLPP pick up its bits and pieces and sealed them together, unify the party and drive towards generational change of leadership to prove their credibility to the electors as a government in waiting?
The current skirmishes between senior members accusing each other of corruption and embezzlement of public funds of those who were entrusted with public responsibilities while in government offices, and benefits derived from the party is a serious handicap in terms of trust in the party.
They should have been talking about the good job they did for the party and their excellent service to the nation.
Would the SLPP once again, entrust responsibilities to those who had failed to deliver what was expected of them while in office?
Yankuba Kai-Samba: For your information, this is what I wrote to Gbessay Ehlogima Sam Momoh on March 6, 2016 at 10:44 pm:
“Maada, which means respect to the elderly Mendes, is from Bonthe district, my home. But, I do not support him to be President of Sierra Leone.”
While I’m not interested in being invidious, however, I don’t agree with you for saying that: “That intervention led to the restoration of the democratically elected government, constitutional order and brought peace and stability to Sierra Leone.”
You seem to forget too quickly about what really happened in Sierra Leone. It could be you were out of the country at that material time. Well, I was on the ground and saw the traumatic events with my naked eyes from start to finish. And I can’t allow myself to be fooled by you. God forbid that from happening.
Your refusal to read “Democracy By Force?” is all up to you. And good for you. But, Dr. Abass Bundu never opposed the deployment of an international force to bring about the then deteriorating situation under control in Sierra Leone. Please present the evidence that supports this charge of yours.
If what you are saying is true, then why did he form ECOMOG, as Secretary General of ECOWAS, to intervene in the civil conflict in neighboring Liberia?
If what you wrote has any element of truth in it, then why was there January 6, 1999?
And do you think that his younger brother Hon. Ibrahim Rassin Bundu, who is the Majority Leader of the APC party in Parliament, will play no part in dissolving this case in court?
Let me know, and go from there.
Mr Moustache,for you to characterised my rebuttal of Mr Sam Momoh’s baseless allegations that those older members who had benefited from the SLPP have ganged up against Julius Bio as hate is totally misguided and unfounded.
All my statement did was to disprove his erroneous allegations by showing that among all the intending flagbearer aspirants for the SLPP,it is Julius Bio that have old timers backing his campaign who had benefited from politics in general and under 11 years of SLPP government of president Kabba.
Furthermore,referring me to read the book “democracy by force” is not relevant to my salient point that Dr Abass Bundu opposed the international intervention to save Sierra Leone from becoming a perpetual failed state ruled by murderous combined undemocratic forces of AFRC and RUF .
That intervention led to the restoration of the democratically elected government,constitutional order and brought peace and stability to Sierra Leone.
There was no other option in the face of intransigence from the AFRC who had seized power by force of arms other than the application of similar force by the international community under the doctrine of responsibility to protect to eject them from their illegally held power.
There were great losses which were deeply regrettable, but intervention was justified and necessary as the combined AFRC and RUF were exceptionally and gratuitously violent in their destruction of the people and the infrastructure of the country.
Yankuba Kai-Samba: I am sure you have read Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu’s book titled ‘Democracy By Force?’ While I don’t have time to review it with you at the moment, however, it is a nine chapter book that specifically addresses international military intervention in the civil war of our country from 1991 to 2000. The Foreword note was written by the Late Dr. John Karefa-Samart, who commended it to all and sundry.
I ask that you read it again, if possible, and have a more thorough understanding of the events that unfolded in Sierra Leone, with President Charles Taylor now in prison for 50 years on a war he waged in the sub-region.
Your claim that: “The APC government had reactivated that charge, against Dr. Abass C. Bundu, when they won the 2007 election and as I write the case is still in court,” is very much unfortunate.
Are we a FORWARD or BACKWARD looking people? Damn it!
Please Sir, where there is hatred, sow LOVE; where there is darkness, let there be LIGHT; where there is injury, PARDON; where there is doubt, FAITH; where there is despair, HOPE. Peace Prayer.
Let go, and let God. Happy Independence. Amen.
An opposition party in waiting should not behave this way. What has Bio done that all the old people in the party who view the party as their only means of survival, ganged against him?
While the old guys who have held top positions in the government continue to hate Maada, they are on the other hand making him even more popular among the grass root.
Mark this, any attempt to give power to another person instead of trying Bio for the last time, will lead to the death of SLPP. Note this statement very well.
Majority of the grass root people are ready to cast their vote for APC, or form the Independent Candidates Coordinating Committee ( ICCC). We are tired of these old guys manipulating elections to suit their interest.
John Ben, Kandeh Yumkellah, etc., cannot challenge Maada Bio if they go to the grass root.
This is a new one for me Mr Momoh, an Opposition Party in Waiting? Well considering the ongoing shenanigans, maybe that is what you Paopa folks desire to do, to keep the SLPP as an Opposition Party in Waiting.
This is inherent in your statement, that the grass root people are ready to cast their vote for APC or form the ICCC.
I am presuming that you mean that Bio intends to form the ICCC to project himself as a candidate, if he does not secure the SLPP flag. Your position seems to be Bio, at all cost.
It is however ironic, that you talk about the old guys who have held top positions in the government – who continue to hate Bio, without recognising that no one in the SLPP has held the highest office in Sierra Leone, other than Bio, albeit using the barrel of a gun.
It is equally ironic that you state that unless Bio is given one more opportunity, it will lead to the death of the SLPP. One has to ask the question, whether in fact your loyalties are indeed with the SLPP.
One can only conclude that with members like you, then the SLPP is in serious trouble. Forget the APC’s 99 tactics.
Mr Momoh, “for the last time”? Are you kidding? Surely you cannot be serious!
How many times has the man got to fail for people to accept that Bio has nothing more to offer the country? His days are gone!
And we are the same people crying foul play and frantically waving our imaginary red cards at the APC lot for their sycophantic “more time” shouts.
You cannot have it both ways, you know. Let’s get a grip, people! Enough of this mediocrity. There is nothing wrong in striving for some modicum of excellence, for once.
Bio has tried and failed. Miserably at that! Let someone else with fresh ideas, energy and drive have a go. Our country needs it desperately.
Ordinarily supporters of Julius Bio dubbed the paopas amuse me but don’t amaze me. Here is one of them. Mr Sam Momoh’s opening paragraph is directed at those he called old people who view the SLPP as their means of survival. He explained this as the reason why the old people have ganged up against Julius Bio.
I have always said and I do believe in this that Bio and his supporters are not very intelligent thinkers. They may know the arts of subterfuge, rebellion, sabotage and destruction but they are certainly not intelligent.
When Mr Sam Momoh wrote his hate fuelled statement against old people, he should have observed the followings:
1. That in SLPP we have supporters and members and we don’t classify our party supporters between old and young. That is divisive, setting one age group against another.
2. I would throw back his one argument against him. There is no flagbearer aspirant in the SLPP race who have more supporters of old time politicians who have benefited immensely from the 11 years of SLPP government of president kabba than Julius Bio himself. I am naming two that I know.
Prince Harding, whom I always consider a deserving friend is a supporter of Bio. He served in the two terms of president Kabba holding both the position of mining ministry, Transport and national secretary general. Some may think that Prince is an old timer. He has had his own time, 10 years in government and benefited from SLPP.
The next old timer supporter of Julius Bio is Kanja Sesay. Kanja also served in the SLPP government of president Kabba and was widely seen by people as one of the president’s blue eye boys, a sacred cow as some would call it.
Kabba put him in charge of the rehabilitation and resettlement programme of the people back to their home cities, which was hugely funded by the UN. Reports has accused him of building a huge personal wealth from that project. In fact the APC has accused him of misappropriation of the UN funded project and failed to return the people.
His critics have pointed the overcrowding in Freetown to his failure in resettle the people and the current water crisis is a consequence of demand outstripping the supply in Freetown.
The next old timer supporter of Bio is Abass Bundu. Bundu was APC and served in the APC dictatorship that kept SLPP out of power for nearly three decades. He left and formed his own political party. He contested for the presidency but only received a single digit of the national votes. He also served as Foreign minister in the NPRC government of which Bio became the head. He sold Sierra Leone’s passports and shared the money with Julius Bio.
Bio transferred his share of that sales, more than a quarter of a million dollars, in to his channel Islands account, according to President Kabba who officially accused Bio of being unpatriotic .
SLPP government had charged Abass to court for the passport sales, but later Berewa rescinded the case when Abass Bundu joined the SLPP. For those who have read my resignation statement from the SLPP in 2007, I cited this issue as one of my reasons .
A fight against corruption is not won by recycling in to a party those who are charged in court for corruption. The APC government had reactivated that charge when they won the 2007 election and as I write the case is still in court.
When the AFRC overthrew the SLPP government of president Kabba, Abass Bundu objected to the internationally approved use of force where diplomacy fails to remove the AFRC junta and their RUF allies from their illegally held power.
It was very clear that the AFRC/RUF Junta were not going to reinstall the SLPP government they had so violently removed . But this was the expressed, emphatic and unequivocal demand from the international community including UN, AU, EU, COMMONWEALTH, USA and led by Britain our former colonial rulers.
Abass Bundu wrote to head of these institutions including the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, the UN Secretary general Koffi Annan, Commonwealth secretary and US president objecting to the use of military force to reverse the coup. I was the SLPP UK branch secretary at the time.
I wrote a rebuttal to his argument to all the institutions he copied. One of my line of argument was that those who had attacked and removed by violent means a democratically elected government of Sierra Leone should not be allowed to preside over a general election.
The juntas, under inescapable pressures from both the people in Sierra Leone and the international community, wanted to conduct a general election, but this was rejected by the UN and they insisted they must leave power for the return of the democratically elected government of president Kabba. Abass, brilliant as he was, was on the wrong side of history.
It is against these backgrounds that Mr Sam Momoh’s attack on old people surviving on the SLPP makes no sense at all, if anything his attacks has exposed his hypocrisy and destroyed the very premise of his argument.
Why is Maada Bio and his fanatics so destructive and anti democratic? They simply cannot accept that in a democracy things will not always go your way. And when they don’t go your way, you do not in response take your ball home and play among yourselves.
Is this the man that wants to rule Salone?
Well done to the SLPP UK members that are standing by the constitution of the officially recognised branch. Congratulations also to Mr Ansu Sillah and his newly democratically elected executive committee.
Am afraid to say that Maada Bio and his gang are the greatest and immediate threat facing Sierra Leone. God help us.
There are many things that need to be planned for and done ahead of time for the upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone in 2018. It is now April 2016.
In order to make the election results credible and prevent the outbreak of political violence in the country, as a godly visionary, I ask that the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) adhere to the following piece of advise and implement it as quickly as possible:
THAT ALL ELECTION RESULTS MUST BE DECLARED OR MADE KNOWN PUBLICLY IN NO MORE THAN 24 HRS AT THE CLOSE OF VOTING.
It is one of those many challenges that must be boldly confronted as a nation. And upgrade our electioneering process.
While it is difficult to do, but not impossible. For other countries, including Nigeria with over 170 million people, have done it without any problem. Why can’t Sierra Leone do the same, which takes over two weeks under Christiana Thorpe as then NEC Commissioner? Of course, all because of massive corruption.
As a matter of fact, NEC is currently busy making bids for the Procurement of Vehicles with a closing date of May 2, 2016. All done at a bloated amount of Le 140, 000, 000 (one hundred and forty million leones). See Procurement Number: NEC/SLG/ICB/012/2016 with headline “Invitation for Bids.”
Are we really serious? Please let me know. Thank you very much.
24 April 2016
Of course every member of the SLPP UK/I are now aware that we have a new administration and under the leadership of Mr. Mohamed Yongawo since last night.
It is a pity that some members have deliberately kept themselves away from the branch party for reasons, that are unknown to some of us. The point I am trying to elucidate here is for everybody to understand that there is no need for this. A family with a split among itself, as Miss Nancy Banya pointed out in one of her post is not a decent and comfortable situation.
The split is understandingly due to disagreements about different issues where some people want their own rights to stand even when they are without support.
In the current SLPP atmosphere here in the UK/I, indeed we are split within the party because we are supporting different Flag-Bearer aspirants; but my view about this is that we all engage in politics at different levels and stages and engage in democratic politics, which states that the majority always carry the vote.
Very soon, the SLPP will be appointing a Flag-Bearer for our party during the SLPP conference at Kenema in Sierra Leone. This matter is to be dealt with by the SLPP Headquarters in Freetown and whosoever they appoint is the one we must respect and go along with. The SLPP-UK/I will still continue to remain and survive here as a branch party in UK/I and we will continue to be members.
Well my message here is that we must engage ourselves in democratic politics because that is what goes on now in any part of the world and no one is exempt from this.
Let us please remember that the SLPP is going through the democratic metamorphosis for the better at this point in time, and all members should come closer together and continue to rub shoulders until the SLPP Political victory lies in our hands for positive politics in our country, Sierra Leone.
Remember that the General Election is just at the door-step of Sierra Leone now. As he mentioned in his victory speech last night, Mr. Mohamed Yongawo elaborated that it will never be possible for all of us to be SLPP-UK/I Chairman at the same time.
“Even at the national level back home in Sierra Leone, only one aspirant is to become the party Flag-Bearer and not all of the aspirants at the same time. This is my own time and after two years when my term finishes, I will hand over to one of you as Mr. Jimmy Batilo Songa has handed over tonight.
“Therefore, What I expect from you now is your support to enable me to carry out my duties as a leader because without your support, I will find it difficult, if not impossible to serve you. The party door is opened to all members and non-members so that we can jointly continue to do the good job Mr. Jimmy Batilo Songa has started during his tenure of office; by continuing to recruiting new members which has today raised the profile and level of membership of our branch party.”
ONE COUNTRY-ONE PEOPLE (SLPP)!