SLPP – the rugged road to peace

Dr. Sama Banya – Puawui

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 July 2014

Chief Somano Kapen2Someone, I believe it was the national chairman and leader of the opposition SLPP party – Chief Somano Kapen (Photo), who quoted the old Chinese Proverb, saying that: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

That first step was taken last Saturday, when Unity Hall in the party headquarters was almost jam packed with members, especially those who were visiting the party headquarters for the first time since the Bo party convention some ten months ago.

It was good to see such faces as Isatu Jabbie Kabbah (IJ), and many others who had intended to contest for various positions on the national executive council, but had walked out with Alie Bangura.

The embattled minority Parliamentary leader – Dr. Bernadette Lahai was there, as were the erstwhile national chairman and leader – John Oponjo Benjamin, along with John Karimu and Joe Kallon.

There was Andrew Keili and the former regional chairman south – Joseph Kpulum, together with Alusine Fofana – the interim northern region chairman.

Also present were Sulaiman Tejan-Sie, Fode Dabo and many others. Alpha and Umaru Wurie were there as always, and so too was Morie Manyeh.

Alie BanguraAlie Bangura (Photo) himself, together with his close associate – Joe Blell, were conspicuously absent, and disturbingly so were all the elected members of the current executive, with the exception of the national Chairman and the Secretary-General.

When I inquired later, I was told that necessary and timely as the peace effort was, that Chief Kapen and Sulaiman Banja-Tejan-Sie had made all the arrangements, without as much as a word to them – especially considering that they had all been voted for, just as the two of them.

They attribute the chairman’s lack of consultation – even at the best of times, as one of the root causes of the problems within the executive committee and the secretariat.

I have no doubt that it will be one of the earliest and very urgent matters that Bishop Humper and his colleagues would have to address.

SLPP logoThe majority of the SLPP Members of Parliament not being present, also did not augur well.

And to compound the problem, the national chairman and secretary-general also circulated a resolution in which they had suspended Prince Harding – the deputy chairman and leader, and the national publicity secretary – Tamba Musa-Sam for three months, pending a suggested investigation into their recent conduct of declaring the suspension from office of both the national chairman and the secretary-general of the party.

This action, if allowed, may be an obstacle to peace and must also be urgently addressed, like the subject of the vote of “No Confidence” in the minority leader, notwithstanding any acclamation that there was only one minority leader in the person of honourable Bernadette Lahai.

It was not for her to make the declaration, although she could be excused as taking advantage of the prevailing jubilant atmosphere in the hall.

But I have to emphasize that, disturbing as that was, it was not allowed to overshadow or play down the significance of the occasion.

Bernadette LahaiThose present who had challenged the election results of the Bo convention, led by Dr. Bernadette Lahai (Photo) and John Benjamin, formally recognized chief Kapen and Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie as the national chairman and leader and secretary-general respectively.

How nice it would have sounded to have added: “And the current executive council.” But that would surely come later.

However even before that, the minority leader must reach out to her colleagues in the same way that Kapen must start to put his house in order.

But, be that as it may, both declarations were greeted with a resounding applause which nearly brought down the roof.

To quote the late former President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah in early 2002: “The waa don done” (The war is over); implying that it was the end of all the squabbling and washing of the party’s dirty linen in public by its own elected members.

The idea of party matters being taken to the courts was also condemned in no uncertain terms, especially when it is remembered that by tradition the party had always had it’s way of settling misunderstandings and disputes.

I have written on diverse occasions that the party and its interests supersede those of any individual.

And how refreshing it was to hear those sentiments echoed, over and over again by various speakers.

The ruling APC party must now wake up from its apparent slumber, as they would soon be confronted by a vibrant, united and strong opposition – both in and out of Parliament. Long live Democracy, peace and tolerance.



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