SLPP needs to switch off its opposition mode

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 April 2018:

A serious row has broken out between the ruling SLPP and the former president of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma, after the SLPP National Publicity Secretary – Lahai Lawrence Leema, yesterday accused the former president of holding a secret meeting in his home town of Makeni with a group of senior military officers.

Mr Leema did not say what the secret meeting was about, but writing on social media, this is what the SLPP National Publicity Secretary said:  “The attention of the SLPP National Publicity Secretary has been drawn to a secret meeting of some senior military officers of the RSLAF with the former president Ernest Bai Koroma in Makeni city.

“If this is anything to go by, then let me remind the RSLAF chain of command that the commander-in -chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone (RSLAF) as stipulated by the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone is His Excellency Rtd. Brg. Julius Bio, you either respect the people’s mandate or you quit the RSLAF; to venture any unprogressive path in this country now will be counterproductive.

“You don’t serve to (sic) masters. It is against the military law and codes for three officers to have a secret meeting without the approval of the CDS. So whatever you are up to, I advise you drop it with an immediate effect.”

A month ago, at the height of the general and presidential elections campaigning, Mr Leema made similar accusation against the military, when he said that senior army officers were plotting to assassinate the SLPP leader and presidential candidate – Julius Maada Bio.

But yesterday’s allegation by Mr Leema, who himself is a former military officer,  “is one step too far,” a senior executive of the SLPP party told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

“Our party is now in government, but it seems we have forgotten how to switch off the opposition button we have become accustomed to for the past ten years sitting on the opposition benches,” he said.

Last month,  the Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who is in London this week , attending the Commonwealth Heads of State conference, was elected as president of Sierra Leone.

But three weeks on, the economic woes inherited by his government continue, amid worsening intermittent electricity blackouts across the capital Freetown and shortage of cash to run his government.

The Bio government has a huge mountain to climb, if it is to begin to tackle the economic and financial difficulties facing the people of Sierra Leone. Hence spending time behaving like a government in waiting, lashing out at the outgoing Koroma government is unwise and counter-productive.

Responding to the allegation made by the SLPP against the former president and senior army officers, this is a statement issued by the office of the former President Ernest Bai Koroma:

“The attention of the Office of Former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has been drawn to a very wild allegation authored and published on social media by the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lahai Lawrence Leema, claiming that military officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces held a secret meeting in Makeni City, Northern Sierra Leone, with the former President after he was no longer President.

“The Office of Former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma wishes the public to know that such an allegation by Lahai Lawrence Leema against the Former President and in which the Military has been linked, is baseless and dangerous for the peace and security of the State.

“The facts are that since the new SLPP dispensation of H.E. President Bio was ushered in, the former president has not even moved out of Freetown let alone to be present in northern Makeni City to hold secret meetings with soldiers.

“For the avoidance of all doubts, we hereby state that the former President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has not held any secret meetings with military officers here in Freetown, in Makeni or anywhere else. We therefore condemn in the strongest of terms this errant attempt to bring the name of the former president to disrepute.

“This Office further notes that such unfounded allegations have brought sad memories of how innocent Sierra Leoneans were in the past, implicated on trumped up allegations of Treason resulting in unimaginable, extra-judicial consequences for them and their families.

“Against a backdrop of ongoing harassment of various citizens by armed vigilantes of the ruling SLPP, this Office will like the general public and the international community to note the latest unfortunate and dangerous gimmick by the ruling SLPP.

“During Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s tenure as president over a period of ten years, he worked assiduously to ensure Sierra Leone enjoys unprecedented peace and quiet.

“Our collective efforts under his leadership, ensured our country Sierra Leone was ranked as the most peaceful nation in our region and one of the most peaceful in Africa and the World. It is therefore incumbent on us all to maintain our enviable ranking.

“Meanwhile, this Office hereby demands the immediate retraction by the SLPP of such an unfounded allegation by their official National Spokesman.”

Listen to Lahai Lawrence Leema defending his allegation:

Listen to former Defence Minister Palo Conteh condemning the allegation on 98.1 FM:

While  senior SLPP executives will be hoping that this new row is nothing but a storm in a teacup, it does not bode well for the Bio government that has promised a different and better way of doing politics in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world, with most people living on $1 (one dollar) a day; over 70% are unemployed; fewer than 20% having access to reliable supply of electricity; and 60% struggling to access safe and clean drinking water.

With such problems in the country, the SLPP government must now switch off from opposition mode and go to work.

Five years in office is less than sixty months away. Last month the people of Sierra Leone voted for change which brought the SLPP into power. The people have shown they can do it again in 2023, if the SLPP government fails to address the deep seated economic and social problems that are causing early childhood and adult deaths in Sierra Leone.

2 Comments

  1. I think the partisan thinking will continue to affect our reasoning for a very long time from now until we realise that our country should come first before a political party. Its like a religion or practising politics from the time we are conceived.

    People have to realise that the APC and SLPP have destroyed our country through their ethnic political parties. They dont have the answers to the problems of our country but they continue to make promises and voted into office by their ethnic alliances.

    Someone born in the southeast will automatically become a ‘born-SLPP’ and vice versa from the other side of the ethnic divide. Do you call this politics? If the APC or SlPP were to fail in finding a candidate, the ethnic following will still vote for a stick wrapped in red or green in the end. This I think is the main reason why our leaders dont do anything serious in the end because they know voters will surely cast their ballots for them.

    My brother Sheku said APC will never rule Salone again because they are too corrupt. If you really love salone I think you should encourage competetion for power because it make the country better. Its a good thing for the APC or any other political party to take governance in order to keep the SLPP on its toes.

    Please remember that more than 4 billion dollars was pledged for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement after the war and according to news more than half of that amount was passed on to the previous SLPP government. Most of that money was never accounted for. So do not forget that the SLPP is not corrupt-free and are egually responsiple for the currnt state of Salone.

    Lahai’s coments are unfortunate and I think the government has to re-think his position as a party spokesman because he simply does not know how to manage such sevsitive information. Only peoplee who think SLPP first will hail him because they will never see any wrong-doing of the SLPP.

    We have to put Salone first if we are to move forward and try to minimize the influence of our ethnicities in nationl politics. We can make it happen if we try to leave the past behind us and turn to a positive and objective way of thinking for us to actually make our politicians listen to us and not to be taken for granted.
    Thanks for reading

  2. I really cannot fathom any wrong done by the SLPP Publicity Secretary for making such genuine allegations against former President Ernest Koroma knowing who he is, knowing his past records and what we believe he is capable of doing. Equally also mindful of the unprofessionalism of 70% of our military personnel.

    Almost 90% of the Police force are still blindly loyal to former President Koroma and his cronies, while also recalling the incident of alleged assassination attempt on our President – then Flag Bearer Candidate in the Presidential election race. Hence with all these in mind and many more, the SLPP government have to be very much alert and concerned about security matters in this country.

    One thing I want to inject into the minds of the APC is that they are no longer in governance and that it is the SLPP that is now in governance and that they MUST, I MEAN MUST accept and respect this fact. If they think because they have stolen all our money and made themselves filthy rich and as such they should not accept that they are no longer in governance, then they are making serious blunder and stupid of themselves.

    Let then understand that all the wealth that they have illegally acquired over the last 10 turbulent years of their failed regime, will surely be brought before the court of justice. This should be their worries rather than distracting the minds of the people of this country and the determination of the current regime to see that justice is done and seen to be done.

    Please leave our National Publicity Secretary alone to do his job. Thank you Leema and keep it up for job well done.

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