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Culled From TSLT
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Former president Koroma raises peace stakes in Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 June 2019:

There are continuous and sustained calls for the former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma, to step down from active politics. But the president and his supporters say he is going nowhere.

Critics say that he needs to make way for a new and democratic leadership in his party, that will bring an end to political tension in the country, which many believe is being fuelled by the former president’s dictatorial control of the main opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC).

The APC party is being accused of refusing to accept defeat suffered at the presidential elections held in March 2018, which saw the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) forming a government, led by former military brigadier – Julius Maada Bio.

A veteran of the APC told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the APC party will only accept the new government, when it addresses the concerns raised by the APC.

The former president and leader of the main opposition APC – Ernest Bai Koroma, has in the past few weeks, received a flurry of high-powered visits at his home in Makeni.

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It all started with the visit of ex-president Helen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia who met with Koroma two weeks ago to find a peaceful resolution, to what has become a protracted political tension between the ruling SLPP and the APC leadership.

And then last Wednesday, came report of members of the country’s Inter Religious Council (IRC), meeting Ernest Bai Koroma, after a brief meeting in Freetown with the National Electoral Commission.

All in aid of getting Koroma to accept the results of the 2018 elections, without preconditions. But Koroma and the APC leadership are standing their ground, listing a plethora of concerns which they say the SLPP government and the judiciary must address, before any prospect of national cohesion can be agreed.

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The IRC say that they are holding talks with all political stakeholders in an effort to find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing political tension in the country, following last March general and presidential elections, which resulted in the decision of the High Court to disqualify a dozen of elected APC members of parliament.

The opposition APC is accusing the SLPP government of disenfranchising the electorate, abuse of power, the mass sacking of supporters of the APC working in the public sector.

A few months ago, APC parliamentarians walked out of parliament in protest, accusing the government of failing to address their party’s concerns.

This culminated in heightening political tension, leading to outbreak of violence between the police and APC supporters outside the offices of the APC party in Freetown a few weeks ago.

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Earlier this week also, saw former Vice President Alhaji Chief Sam-Sumana and members of the National Executive of his Coalition for Change (C4C) party, also visiting former president Koroma at his home in Makeni. (Photo above).

Although the purpose of their visit is still not clear, there are suspicions the former vice president – who was ironically sacked by Koroma in 2015, is looking to establish some form of coalition between C4C and the APC, to contest what is going to be a tough battle for the heart and soul of Sierra Leone at the 2023 general and presidential elections.

But C4C’s political strength lies in the eastern district of Kono, where in 2018 they won eight parliamentary seats.

At the recent bye-election held in Ward 099 in Kono, C4C won with over 51% of votes against their 43.7% polled in 2018 – an increase of 8%.

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Kono is one of the two main ‘swing-states’ in Sierra Leone, where elections must be won by any party wanting to govern Sierra Leone – Freetown the capital is the other.

With C4C now in full control of Kono it is not difficult to see why they are being regarded as the party to watch in 2023, if either the APC or the SLPP fail to secure an outright majority. Sam Sumana can effectively become the kingmaker.

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Another visitor received by former president Koroma last Friday, 21st June 2019, sparking much speculation, is the current Vice President – Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh (Photo above).

It is reported that talks between Juldeh and Koroma lasted over two hours, though the nature of those discussions still remain confidential. But there are speculations both men spoke about the need to end political tension between the government and the APC.

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Koroma is no longer president of Sierra Leone, and may soon be voted out as chairman and leader of the APC party at their national convention, expected to be held in December this year.

But until then, he continues to make his shadowy presence felt in the country’s political discourse.

Three days ago, Lawyer Mohamed Sheridan Kamara – a senior member of the APC, who also sits on the party’s Constitution Review Committee (CRC) set up by no other than former president Koroma after losing the 2018 election, tendered his resignation from the Committee with immediate effect, in protest at what he regards as Koroma’s despotic leadership of the party.

In his resignation letter, Mohamed Sheridan Kamara said: “Ostensibly, the CRC was set up to review our party’s 1995 Constitution and make our internal politics democratic and participatory, but in truth, it turns out to be a vehicle for the retention of the most undemocratic and repugnant SELECTION clause in the disguise of CONSULTATION clause. The questions that linger in my mind during the selection age have remained the same with a consultation era, with the most burning question remains: what the end product of consultation and the ultimate answer, is selection?; the very process that has been abused for more than a decade by the current leadership of the party”.

READ THE LETTER HERE:

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