Sierra Leone’s 2023 general and presidential elections will be fiercely fought by APC and SLPP

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 September 2021:

As 2023 presidential and general elections draw closer in Sierra Leone, there is little doubt the two main political parties – the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the opposition All Peoples Congress Party (APC) will lock horns fiercely once again, if current media vitriolic by both sides is to be taken seriously. (Photo above: Maada Bio and Samura Kamara peace embraced after controversial declaration of Bio as president in 2018).

SLPP won the 2018 presidential election by a very narrow 3% majority, which the incumbent APC government protested, accusing the SLPP of electoral fraud – aided by the international community’s regime change agenda. SLPP also lost the parliamentary election with 49 seats against the APC’s 68 seats, but later went on to use the Courts to nullify ten of the seats won by APC and took them over.

SLPP’s 2019 victory was also aided and made possible by the defection of several key players from the SLPP, including presidential aspirant – Dr Kandeh Yumkella who went on to establish his National Grand Coalition (NGC) party which won five seats at the 2018 polls, but more so at the expense of the APC party in their northern heartland of Kambia district.

The controversial sacking of Vice President Chief Sam Sumana by former president Ernest Bai Koroma and his APC party executives was a serious mistake that cost the ruling APC party its incumbency at the 2018 polls, as Chief Sam Sumana went on to establish his Coalition for Change (C4C) party which went on to win eight vital seats in the country’s parliament, also at the expense of the ruling APC.

With the Ernest Koroma APC government facing accusations of massive corruption after eleven years in office and presiding over a crumbling economy, political analysts believe that anyone leading the SLPP into the 2018 elections could have won the presidency against the lacklustre APC presidential candidate – Dr Samura Kamara who was handpicked by Koroma to contest the election.

President Julius Maada Bio’s popularity as an opposition leader of the SLPP in 2018, was based solely on what many in Sierra Leone – especially in his southern tribal heartland, believed at the time to have been his perceived leadership qualities as an ex-military brigadier who led a coup against the former APC government in 1992, in which dozens of people were executed.

The majority of those who voted for Julius Maada Bio in 2018 have been expecting good stewardship of the economy, good governance, strong leadership and an end to rampant corruption in high places as unemployment and poverty accelerate far beyond the levels, he inherited from Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC in 2018.

So, as 2023 approaches, the question in everyone’s mind is whether there is appetite for a return of the APC party to take over once again from the now failing SLPP; or whether the people of Sierra Leone and the international community believe that president Bio should be given the chance to govern for another five years, by which time critics say more damage would have been done to the economy and the lives of millions of Sierra Leoneans.

This is what two of the fiercest critics of the opposition APC and the ruling SLPP respectively think about the two competing political parties and their chances of winning in 2023, said in their respective articles published today:

“Why APC Should Never Return To Power” – By Sorie Fofana (Editor and publisher of Global Times):

In 2018, the electorate voted the APC Party out of office after eleven years in power. The electorate had become fed-up with the failed leadership of the APC Party.

The APC administration had become so unpopular that even the country’s bilateral and multi-lateral partners decided to stop dealing with the Government, by suspending their programmes and activities in the country.

President Dr. Julius Maada Bio came to power in April 2018 on an anti-corruption platform. He promised to tackle corruption root and branch. Three years after his election as President, corruption has drastically been curtailed, thanks to the tenacity of the uncompromising ACC boss, Francis Ben Kaifala.

In his 2018 election manifesto, President Bio promised to develop the country’s human capital through the introduction of a free quality education programme. Three years after his election, enrolment in primary schools has increased threefold.

With Bio as President, the international community have returned to the country and have resumed all programmes and projects that they had abandoned in the year leading to the 2018 elections. Sierra Leone’s credibility in the international community has been fully restored after President Bio came to power in 2018.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected Sierra Leone’s economic growth. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected even major economies across the globe. It has led to massive unemployment and the collapse of several financial institutions and major economies across the globe.

The Government of Sierra Leone, under the astute leadership of President Bio, has continued with the implementation of the free quality education programme in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. 22 percent of the country’s budget is allocated to the education sector. This clearly shows the seriousness that the President attaches to education and human capital development.

As Presidential and Parliamentary elections draw closer, the electorate would have a clear opportunity to vote for continuity under the SLPP or vote for the return of monumental corruption, breakdown of law and order and economic mismanagement under the APC.

The APC’s eleven years in office (2007-2018) witnessed the near collapse of the country’s economy under the weight of massive corruption.

Voting for the APC in 2023 is a vote for the return of rampant corruption, indiscipline, underdevelopment, bad governance, the collapse of the free quality education programme, the return of nepotism and above all, the collapse of the economy and the breakdown of law and order. This is why the APC is not good for Sierra Leone!

A vote for President Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP in 2023 is a vote for good governance, free quality education, law and order, the promotion of human capital development and press freedom, increased access to electricity and water supply and above all, a transparent leadership and an effective and efficient management of the country’s economy.

The APC should NEVER return to power in Sierra Leone. They are not good for this country! (END).

“SLPP Is Not Good For Salone” – By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

Majority of Sierra Leoneans are, at present, angrily angry because they are hungrily hungry. And when you add the fact that the bulk of them are hopelessly hopeless in terms of putting a loaf of bread and a plate of rice on their tables daily; then you will realise why they are angrily angry because even the “masankay” palm oil they can no longer afford to pour on their “mileju gari”!

No doubt, Sierra Leone under the watchful watch of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is now facing the shoddiest economic policies since Independence in 1961. The country’s economy is currently being “characterized by double-digit inflation, low domestic revenue mobilization, high domestic debt burden, unsustainable external debt, and huge arrears to contractors” (to borrow President Julius Maada Bio’s words from his first address to Parliament on 10 May 2018). It’s like the President had had clairvoyance of what the economy would look like when he would have taken three years at the rudder of state. Those words have come full circle and might now be haunting him like an obstinate ghost from the past which is refusing to be exorcised.

And that’s not the end of the story. “In the 2020 Global Hunger Index, Sierra Leone ranks 101 out of the 107 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2020 GHI scores. With a score of 30.9, Sierra Leone has a level of hunger that is [seriously] serious.”  And that’s not all. According to the 2019 Global Hunger Index, “about one out of every four people in the country is undernourished”. And when you add the fact that “more than 3 million Sierra Leoneans lack reliable access to adequate food”, then you will get the graphic picture of why majority of Sierra Leoneans are now hungrily hungry, which is making them angrily angry!

Yet, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Professor Kelfala Kallon, has the audacity to even float the idea of slashing the three zeros from the local currency, the Leone, with the warped illogical argument that “citizens will have the psychological feeling that their currency is doing well.” Little wonder a business Fullah chieftain gave him a commonsensical lecture late last week on basic economics principles, telling him that while he was ensconced in his ivory tower at the Sam Bangura Building in Freetown, churning out impracticable economics theories, Sierra Leone’s economy “ladom nar tret” like an unclaimed corpse!

And to compound the economic woes further, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just said, “Sierra Leone’s capacity to repay [its] debt is constrained.” This is a euphemistic way of telling the SLPP government that, under its watchful watch, the country is now in an economic mess similar to that of Lebanon! Yet, the SLPP “Drunkardnomists” will have the Dutch courage to conjure sexed-up so-called facts and figures from phoney surveys by SLPP-leaning Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to fit into their propagandistic mumbo-jumbo that the economy is doing well. But as I noted in my One Dropian dropping of 24 August 2021, “No matter how one dresses a baboon in queenly frock and diamonds-studded crown; it is still a baboon.”

The SLPP government’s continuous failure to provide basic solutions to the bread and butter issues, coupled with the current cement and iron-rod problem, has become a sort of pop culture that even local comedians are now cracking jokes at President Bio’s expense. Even the SLPP’s flagship “Free Quality Education” programme is reminding me of the African proverb that says, “only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet”. The President jumps into that programme without first giving it a thoughtful thought! Now the “free” has elbowed the “quality” from the “education”, which has made it look like a substandard product made by mad Chinese people.

And it is that seemingly thoughtlessness that has now made some “Concerned Teachers” in Kenema District, one of the bastions of SLPP-dom, to have become so angry that they have now planned to stage a peaceful demonstration on 5 September 2021. It is truly amazing that the Ministry of Finance will always find funds to fund President Bio’s overseas travels but has been unable to pay the salaries of pin-coded teachers for more than three years now.

Although I’m in sympathy with the “Concerned Teachers” of Kenema District, because as the holy Bible says in Genesis 31:9 that “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”, but they are some of those who are the architects of the current mess which Sierra Leone finds itself today. In 2018, they took tribalism into consideration when they voted for the SLPP like programmed zombies. So, in disrobed language: the SLPP government is the Concerned Teachers’ Frankenstein monster!

And like Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, “Frankenstein”, the Concerned Teachers are now disgusted with their creation and are trying to flee from it in revolt. But just like how the monster threatens his creator; the SLPP government is now threatening the Concerned Teachers that they should be mindful of “…section 17 (1) of the Public Order Act of 1965, [which] condemns the organizing or holding a demonstration without prior notice to police…[and that] contravening the 1965 Public Order Act will meet a strong resistance from the police…”(according to a press release released on 27 August 2021 and signed by one Morie Mohamed Kamara of the Kenema Police Division). This is equivalent to the monster threatening to annihilate everything Victor Frankenstein holds dear if he fails to create a female companion for him.

And even the opinionated fools in the SLPP government know that their party is now a failure in summary. The SLPP government has failed to fix the economy, which is now being “characterized by double-digit inflation, low domestic revenue mobilization, high domestic debt burden, unsustainable external debt, and huge arrears to contractors” (to borrow President Bio’s words). The SLPP government has failed to provide solutions to the bread and butter issues, as “more than 3 million Sierra Leoneans lack reliable access to adequate food”. And the SLPP government has woefully failed because “Sierra Leone [now] has a level of hunger that is [seriously] serious.”

It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with a quote from Chinua Achebe that says, “When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool”. And that “suffering” is the SLPP government which has now left majority of Sierra Leoneans hungrily hungry! And their anger will be manifested in 2023! (END).

No matter which of the above analysis one agrees with, there is no doubt that the 2023 presidential and general elections will be fiercely fought in Sierra Leone by the old adversaries – APC and SLPP.

There is growing call across the country and outside for Dr Kandeh Yumkella of the NGC party to either consider going into coalition with the APC or strengthen the emerging national coalition of about fifteen opposition parties including the APC, NGC and C4C to contest the elections in 2023 – if they are to remove the SLPP from office.

It is worth noting once again that – in the first round of the 2018 presidential election, Bio polled – 1,097,482 votes = 43.26% against Samura’s 1,082,748 votes = 42.68%. But in the second round Bio won 1,319,406 votes – 51.81%, and Samura 1,227,171 votes – 48.19%. This was a very close result. Yet, in the parliamentary elections, SLPP were massively defeated with APC winning 68 seats and SLPP – 49 seats.

Will history repeat itself in 2023? Or will the opposition APC or the coalition of opposition parties swing the results against the incumbent SLPP?

8 Comments

  1. What is going on team Chief Sam Sumana and team Samura Kamara? We have been on this political self beating for ages waiting for your communique on who will be the next flagbearer and leader of the indomitable and legendary APC. Both of you could be on the ticket if you don’t mind. There must be a compromise between both Chief Sam Sumana and Dr Samura Kamara to get things done and get SAHLONE sorted. Many people are fired up and ready to go. Being on political self beating mode is boring, waste of time and costs money. You know that. The 2023 presidential elections is about the soul of Sierra Leone. Some people have to pack their suitcases and go. Have to. So Hurry up! God bless Chief Sam Sumana and Dr Samura Kamara.

  2. We have a culture of naming our past and current presidents which always carry an undertone, for example, late President Stevens was known as “ Pass ar die” for his dictatorial tendencies. Also, late President J.S. Momoh was commonly known as “Dan Dongo” ( fool man). Former President Earnest Koroma was known as “ Ebola and mudslide Koroma because of his greed and corruption . Currently even in the stronghold of the APC ( Freetown), President Bio is commonly known as “Talk en Do” which translates to a man of credibility and integrity.
    Based on these undertones, I personally believe that come 2023 which in political calendar seems like decades away, the voters will definitely re- elect President “Talk and Do” Bio.
    Finally, the voters already gave him 5 years mandate to govern and fulfill his manifesto. So let’s continue to hope and pray for him to succeed which will eventually be a success for our beloved nation.

  3. How insanely wonderful, intoxicatingly beautiful it would be if our country’s sixty-year-old political system were to grow suddenly new roots, sprouting as it were into an entirely new political configuration, resulting in the creation before the next general and presidential elections of a third powerful political party. A party as powerful if not more as the APC and the SLPP, thereby giving voters a real, credible alternative at the polling stations. Sadly, however, the year 2023 is far too near for that third powerful political formation to come into being. Indeed, for that to happen it would take nothing short of a political revolution of Copernican proportions, capable of moving our country irreversibly from its current self-destructive political centre of gravity – a duopoly bolstered by ethnicism and regionalism – into a completely different orbit around a healthier, wholesome, truly energising and productive centre.

    That yet-to-be third forceful political formation will need to have a solid, active and permanent base and presence in every region, led by men and women of every ethnic colour, hue or shade; men and women who, if proud of their specific ethno-regional identities, think and act nationally first and foremost. Such men and women will without doubt be a new species of politicians worthy of this appellation: new patriots. Their task will be to identify priorities tailored to the needs common to all the regions and ethnic groups and to address them rationally, whole heartedly and, above all, selflessly. These new Sierra Leoneans will know that while their ethnicities and regions do matter, they are nevertheless part and parcel of a larger, more important, all-encompassing national identity.

    In other words,the new men and women will know that distinct and discrete as their ethno-regional selves might be they none the less feed into an overarching, non-discriminating national self. The men and women will be fully aware that defending the supreme interests of that national self will be their sacred duty as citizens of a unique and beautiful place called Sierra Leone. Can NGC, C4C and the other minor political parties rise to the challenge of constituting that third powerful political force needed to put paid to APC’s and SLPP’s monopoly on running the affairs of our country? Can these parties and their leaders rise to the challenge of becoming the new patriots?

  4. Barely few months after the end of the second world wars, Wiston Churchill, the British prime minister who led Britain through that against Nazi Germany, the Conservative party for which he was the leader suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Clement Attlee’s Labour party in the july election of that year. No one eles was more stunned with that defeat than Churchill himself. So in the eyes of the British electorate of 1945, winning a war alone is not a guarantee that they will vote for you again . He lamented for what he rightly felt about the ungrateful Bristish electorate. “Democracy is the worst form of government, except the ones that have been tried” louding Bio about his flag ship free education , like it was the only platform on stood on back in 2018,commendable for what he has done on that free quality education for Children that otherwise will never sit in a classroom is good.But what about the fight against corruption, his bringing peoples together, and most importantly fighting nepotism in our country.

    None of the above have past the litmus test under which we judge Bio. But for every step Bio takes foward, he takes two steps backwards. Our country is faced with so many challenges, both economically and socially. The APC party that is supposed to act as the opposition, is in a state of flux. To many citizens, representative government, through exircising your rigth to vote, is becoming meaningless. And frankly view their elected representatives as clear and present danger to their welfare. In the absence of being part of a process, or shut out in any decision making process safe for where citizens are asked to directly asked to exircise their rigth to vote, with little or no benifet after casting their ballots, a sense of despondency sets in, about the whloe elections exircise. They start to think the unthinkable. What was the point? Casting a ballot for someone eles to make themselves rich at the back of poor and uneducated peoples.

    The active participation in local, party, or national elections can be seen to be dominated by a cartel of privilege few which makes taking part in our democracy unappealing . Over the past two decades, both the SLPP and the APC party have managed to shut out mass participation in the decision making process of their respective partis. So as Sierra Leoneans we should be concerned. Because what we see in this two major parties and the way democracy and free speech is suppressed within the parties, once in government, they never seem to transition from the nasty, mean, egotism, party politics to the national. We hope the APC leadership can put their house in order, to give citizens of our great nation a real choice come 2023.

  5. We are dealing with speculation and ,possibly, extrapolation here – in other words guess work. The premise of the article may be sound, given its adherence to history, but in the absence of a statistically based poll, it’s improper to draw irrefutable conclusions. The people of Sierra Leone are fast waking up to some unquestionable realities.

    One of these realities is that in more than sixty years of independence APC and SLPP have virtually done nothing for the country, everything about us has gone down. Once the campaign opens up and this reality is seized by NGC forcefully and exploited to its fullest the two-horse race predicted by the article will be on shaky grounds, especially in urban areas where people are more enlightene, have some education and analytical powers. I concede that NGC may have to enter into a coalition with other parties to achieve a majority in parliament, but where the presidency is concerned Dr Yomkella has a fighting chance. Assuming that he, Dr Yomkella, wins the presidency, but falls short of a majority in parliament, we shall witness real democracy, since honest discussions and compromises will enter the political arena.

    As a people we must find it in ourselves to try something else. APC are starving to death. Bring them back in 2023 and they will clean up the treasury forthwith. Retain SLPP, and the Bios honeymoon will assume a more diabolical dimension; millions of dollars and Billions of Leones will continue to disappear at various government departments ; people will continue to die of malnutrition, the Mayor, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, will still be prevented from performing her duties, no electricity, no water, a bloated executive, a dysfunctional Bank of Sierra Leone and the list goes on to infinity. Many thanks to the author of the article.

    • Santhkie Sorie, the arguments in the above article are not based on speculation. They are based on the reality on the ground in Sierra Leone. I am a card carrying member of the NGC and prior to the 2018 general and presidential elections, I used to argue along the same lines as you. But notwithstanding my party membership, I am a realist. I no longer believe that the NGC will win the presidency in Sierra Leone. Politics is a numbers game. The NGC does not have the numbers to leapfrog the APC and the SLPP. Whenever, you have time, travel to the provinces of Sierra Leone and please publish a report about how strong you believe the NGC is in the provinces.

      One of the things that I learned from the 2018 elections is that Sierra Leone is a resilient political duopoly. The SLPP and the APC are so much alive and entrenched in Sierra Leone’s DNA that it is laughable for any third political force to dream of upstaging these two parties in elections. In 2018, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella won 6.9% of the presidential votes. I doubt if he would reach that threshold in 2023. Many of the folks that voted for Yumkella have returned to either the APC or the SLPP.

  6. A new political force devoid of the APC and SLPP is what the people of Sierra Leone badly need. Whether it is achievable under the current political climate remains to be seen.

  7. Sierra Leone can only become a progressive nation if the next election is fought by 3 political parties viz SLPP, APC and a genuine Alliance of all other parties. Proof : the sum of the two sides of any triangle is greater than the third side

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