Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 July 2015
Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court has today ruled that the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP), must refrain from conducting any form of elections, before the court makes a final ruling on the substantive matter relating to the conduct of the party’s 2013 executive elections and expulsion of Alie Bangura from the party in April 2015.
Lawyers acting for Bangura had filed a petition at the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, challenging the outcome of the Bo Convention, after losing the election for party chairmanship to Chief Somano Kapen. Bangura was immediately sacked by the elected party chiefs following his Court petition this year.
Two weeks ago, in a hearing before Justices Valesius Thomas, Vivian Solomon, Nicholas Browne-Marke, Eku Roberts, and Patrick Hamilton, lawyer Jalloh acting for the plaintiff Alie Bangura, requested that the court imposes a restraint order on the party.
He argued that to allow the SLPP executive to conduct elections will be inimical to his client’s political interests in the party.
The substantive matter put before the court by Alie Bangura’s lawyer is a motion calling upon the Supreme Court to declare the elections in 2013 which brought the current SLPP executives to power, null and void.
But constitutional experts say that whilst the Supreme Court has today decided to suspend any form of elections by the SLPP, Judges will find it very difficult to nullify the 2013 election results.
However, there is a very high probability that the Court may rule against the expulsion of Alie Bangura from the party.
Representing the SLPP in Court, lawyer Dr. Bu-Buakei Jabbi two weeks ago conceded that executives of the party are not contemplating, nor will they be holding any elections before the Court’s ruling.
The chairman of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) – Justice Tolla Thompson, had intervened in the conflict to help resolve the matter amicably between the parties, and was hoping that Bangura would withdraw his court action.
But those peace talks brokered by the PPRC had resulted in deadlock. It is understood that the National Executives of the SLPP will be meeting in August to reconsider their decision to expel Bangura from the party.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph has learnt that the reinstatement of Bangura by the executives could pave the way for substantive peace talks between all factions of the party, that are currently creating toxic atmosphere in the party.
Many members of the SLPP are hoping that once Bangura has been reinstated, there is every likelihood his lawyers will withdraw the case from the Supreme Court.
This is the SLPP Executive’s response to today’s Supreme Court ruling:
The national Executive of the SLPP wishes to inform the general membership of the party and the general public at large, that the supreme court of Sierra Leone has delivered its ruling this morning on the matter brought by Mr Alie Essa Bangura against Chief Bai Sebora Somanah 111 (Photo) – National Chairman and Leader of the party and 27 other elected National Executive members of the SLPP, specifically seeking an interlocutory injunction against their holding the party’s internal executive elections whilst the substantive matter remains to be finally determined relating to Alie Bangura’s allegations against the democratic nature of the elections held at the Bo party conference on 17-18 August 2013.
The National Executive of the party is pleased to announce that it fully accepts the Ruling of the Supreme Court, which it considers to be a win-win situation for the party.
The national Executive had itself taken a decision on the 19th June 2015 to postpone the conduct of all such lower level elections until further notice which it had duly communicated to the Political parties Registration Commission (PPRC), in a letter dated 19th June 2015, and to the Supreme Court by way of an affidavit in the interlocutory matter already decided upon.
Therefore, the Court’s Ruling that the conduct of internal executive elections of the party be deferred pending its final determination of the substantive matter, the hearing of which shall commence on 24 September 2015, is fully in consonance with the decision of the National Executive taken earlier.
Thus by implication, and indeed as emphasised in the Supreme Court’s Ruling, the Executive’s of the party at all levels remain in office and shall continue to run the affairs of the party without any restrictions upon their competence, save as stated above in relation to the conduct of internal executive elections.
In the meantime, the meeting of the national Executive Council (NEC) convened for the 7th and 8th August 2015, shall proceed as planned.
Signed: Chief Bai Sebora Somanoh 111, National Chairman and Leader
But will today’s Supreme Court ruling mark the beginning of the long and complex road to sustainable peace within the SLPP?
Perhaps, may be – just may be, the Executives of the SLPP may find that they may have to rescind this statement issued in April 2015, expelling Bangura from the party:
”The National Officers further recalled in their deliberations that Mr. Allie Essa Bangura has unjustifiably failed to honour and fulfill his solemn obligations as a member of the Party as prescribed by the Party Constitution 1995 (as amended) including in particular his failure to pay regularly the prescribed dues of the Party since the Bo Conference.
“The National Officers further noted that it has been the intention of Mr. Allie Essa Bangura, as evidenced by his recent conduct and activities towards the Party, to bring about the total paralysis and eventual collapse of the Party.
“Such activities included his manifest desire to use the judicial process to frustrate and restrain all the established organs and institutions of the Party at all levels from carrying out their legitimate and constitutional functions and duties that will ensure the continued survival and integrity of the SLPP as a democratic Party, especially at this most critical time in the history of the evolution and development of constitutionalism, democracy and democratic governance of the State of Sierra Leone of which our Party is an integral part.
“In light of all the foregoing, and in the paramount interest of preserving the integrity and survival of the SLPP, the elected National Officers of the Party have resolved to relieve Mr. Allie Essa Bangura of his membership of the SLPP. ”
In a separate though related development, the National Secretary General of the SLPP has today written a letter, clarifying the membership status of presidential hopeful Dr. Kandeh Yumkella.
This issue has mischievously been used as an excuse by sections of the SLPP leadership both at home and abroad, to deny and exclude Kandeh from enjoying the full rights and benefits of SLPP party membership.
This is the letter: