Why open a new row about Kandeh Yumkella’s membership of SLPP?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 January 2016

Yumkella in Bo 1(Photo Above: Dr. Yumkella speaking to the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas).

Just when the rank and file members of the Sierra Leone opposition SLPP party are breathing a sigh of relief that the party is now on the road to rebuilding cracks and heal the wounds, opened up by a vicious attack on the credibility of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella by Julius Maada Bio and his supporters, comes another divisive media briefing, casting doubt on Yumkella’s honesty regarding his membership of the party.

Buried deep within the subtle nuances of a press statement released today, 8th January 2016, by the Julius Maada Bio Media and Communications Team, titled: “Welcoming Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to the SLPP family”, is the continuing provocative narrative that speaks of Yumkella’s ‘un-bona fide’ membership of the SLPP party.

Maada Bio is today alleging that throughout the past seven months, since Yumkella declared his intention to stand for the SLPP 2017 presidential candidacy, Yumkella has been a bogus member of the party, until his registration at the party offices in Freetown yesterday, 7th January 2016 to regularise his membership.

This new row in the SLPP comes as the ruling APC and its Koroma government, continues to ineptly bungle their way through the morass of lawlessness and abject poverty, created in the country after eight years in power.

The people of Sierra Leone are crying out for a strong and united opposition that will steadfastly hold the ruling APC party accountable for its misrule, corruption, misuse of judicial and police powers, and poor governance.

So why is the SLPP continuing to tear itself apart, instead of making itself relevant and attractive as a credible government in waiting to the country’s electorate?

Why has Maada Bio and his team chosen to doggedly focus on a divisive issue that has recently been cleared up by the party executive, especially Chairman Kapen and Secretary General Banja Tejan-Sie?

This is what the statement by Maada Bio’s communication team says:   

Bio meets president Koroma at state House - 12 October 2015“In October 2015, Rtd Brig. Bio stated in an interview on Radio Democracy, FM 98.1, that the day Dr. Kandeh Yumkella becomes a legally registered member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) he will be the first to congratulate and welcome him to the SLPP family. (Photo: Bio and Koroma at State House three months ago). 

“On Thursday 7th January 2016, the Rtd. Brig. Bio was formally informed by the National Treasurer of the Sierra Leone People’s Party that Dr. Kandeh Yumkella on the said date had gone through the correct procedures at the national party headquarters and attained a membership status of the party.

“In his response to the membership of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Rtd Brig. Bio stated “I want to wholeheartedly congratulate and welcome Dr. Yumkella to the SLPP family.

“As members of the party, we must always respect the rules and procedures of the party because they are the foundation upon which a vibrant political party is built.

“Dr Yumkella’s membership will be an additional value to the party. We must all now concentrate on the greater task of uniting the party and preparing the party for governance in 2018.

“The SLPP believes in One Country, One People and the registration of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella is a further testament that the SLPP embraces every Sierra Leonean irrespective of tribe or regional background. I look forward to seeing Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in our SLPP meetings and party functions.”

“The Media and Communication Team would also like to join Rtd. Brig. Bio in welcoming Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to the SLPP Family. We believe the decision by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella to follow the correct procedures on his registration will bring to an end the unnecessary bickering and restore the credibility of the SLPP as a party ready for governance.

“We wish Dr. Kandeh Yumkella a wonderful stay in the SLPP Family. Collectively, we must all work together to return the SLPP to governance in 2018.” (End of statement).

The Sierra Leone Telegraph this morning contacted Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in Freetown for a response to this statement, but without success.

However, the Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) Communication Team in the UK and Ireland, said this to the Sierra Leone Telegraph:

chief kapen confirms yumkella membership of slpp“The registration of Kandeh Yumkella as a member of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party is a settled issue and has been verified by the National Secretary General, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie during an interview with Sierra Leone Telegraph, on the 4th September 2015.

This has been further confirmed by the Chair, Somano Kapen.

“What is the case, is that Kandeh Yumkella was asked by Mr O S Fofanah, Kambia District Chair of the SLPP to upgrade his membership within the district to Distinguished Grand Chief Patron.  He duly did.  We believe that it is this document that is being referred to by Julius Maada Bio as evidence of his membership of the SLPP from 7 January 2016.

“This statement by Maada Bio is a puerile and fraudulent attempt to disenfranchise Kandeh Yumkella from the SLPP Flagbearer elections.

“It is not the responsibility of the National Treasurer to confirm membership of the organisation and in this regard the National Treasurer has acted in breach of the party’s rule in the same way that the clandestine and short lived Membership Verification Committee.

Maada Bio and President Koroma“Both comprise of party members who support the doomed campaign of Julius Maada Bio for the SLPP and this press release along with their use of the violent Benghazi Boys and collusion with the APC Government of Ernest Koroma is part of a series of actions that Julius Maada Bio has planned to ensure that he is coronated as SLPP Flagbearer.

“Those behind the scenes of this maneuvering include Dr Abass Bundu, erstwhile member of the clandestine Membership Verification Committee and architect of the industrial scale sale of Sierra Leone passports to organise crime syndicates.

“Bio who masquerades as a Retired Brigadier has been unemployed since he was forced to hand over power to a civilian administration in 1996. In 2012 he led the SLPP to election defeat. He is unpopular and he is not of the same stature as Kandeh Yumkella, who has been rapturously received throughout the country.

“Bio is a member of the party with no official position, so his release of this press statement only serves to demonstrate his political immaturity.

“Bio’s options to close down debate within the SLPP and to install himself as Flagbearer are fast receding. His silence during the recent arrest and detention by the APC of another aspirant has been clearly visible.

Alie Kabba Dec 2015“While other party members were working to secure Alie Kabba’s (Photo) release, Bio has been trying to install a new executive, full of his cronies and also to influence party delegations.

“All of Bio’s attempts to frustrate the democratic will of the people of Sierra Leone, and to abort their hopes, future opportunities and to secure the transformation of our beloved Sierra Leone, will fail. “ (End).

Will this new row, opened up by Julius Maada Bio and his campaign team, further deepen old wounds and threaten any chance of peace and stability returning to the country’s main opposition SLPP party, before national and presidential elections are held in 2017/2018?

Internal political row is not exclusively peculiar to the opposition SLPP in Sierra Leone. A volcano is slowly heating up, deep within the ruling APC party waiting to explode, once the leadership power vacuum is officially declared in advance of the party’s convention later this year.

There will certainly be blood on the carpet at the forthcoming APC convention, no matter the attempts of president Koroma and a handful of his party grandees, to control and micro-manage the leadership change and transition process.

2016 is set to bring much political turbulence across Sierra Leone, as the two main parties elect their presidential candidates, and agree their running mates for the country’s 2017/2018 national and presidential elections.

You can read what the SLPP party Secretary General said here:

Yumkella is a bona fide member of the SLPP – says party National Secretary General

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