And yesterday’s ugly scene outside the SLPP party office, where a group of prominent party members – grand patrons of the party – all aspiring to become the SLPP presidential candidate for the 2018 elections, were refused entry into the building, was a humiliation too far.
This is just another crisis in the party’s long battle with itself, to find peace and unity among the various contenders for the leadership and presidential candidacy of the party. It does not look pretty.
Those locked out of the party office yesterday, Saturday, 4th June, 2016, are members of an Alliance formed by most of the presidential aspirants that are working towards peace and unity in the party – the Presidential Aspirants Alliance.
They included Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Alpha Timbo, Munda Rogers, Franklyn Rogers and Dr Jonathan Tengbeh.
So why were they refused entry into the party office in Freetown?
The Sierra Leone Telegraph was informed yesterday by a member of the Alliance that a few days ago, a meeting was held at the country’s Party Political Registration Commission (PPRC), chaired by the chairman of the PPRC – Justice Tolla Thompson (Photo), to discuss the recent violence which took place in Kenema that led to the murder of a young SLPP supporter; and to find a peaceful resolution to the internal squabbles that is creating a breeding ground for such political violence.
The PPRC meeting was attended by all of the party’s presidential aspirants, including Julius Maada Bio, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Alpha Timbo, Munda Rogers, Franklyn Rogers and Dr Jonathan Tengbeh. Chief Kapen – the chairman of the party was also present at the PPRC meeting.
One of the resolutions of the PPRC meeting was that all of the presidential aspirants will be invited by the party chairman Kapen, to attend the party’s National Executive Council meeting slated for Saturday, 4th June 2016, at the SLPP head office in Freetown, as observers.
On the 1st of June 2016, chairman Kapen honoured that PPRC resolution and sent a letter to each of the presidential aspirants, inviting them to the NEC meeting.
Members of the Presidential Aspirant Alliance decided that it would be prudent to attend the meeting collectively.
They arrived at the entrance of the party office yesterday 4th June 2016 and were refused entry by security men who told them that they cannot enter the building to attend the NEC meeting, because the programme had changed – the chairman has changed his mind.
When asked where the decision to lock them out had come from, they were told: ‘Orders from above’.
They were refused entry into the building and prevented from attending the NEC meeting as observers, in accordance with the resolution agreed with the PPRC chairman Justice Thompson earlier in the week.
They were also refused entry into the building and prevented to attend the NEC meeting, despite producing their letters of invite they had received from the party and NEC chairman Kapen on the 1st June 2016.
Why the duplicity? This is a question that needs to be answered by the chairman of the party, and fast, to prevent his credibility and authority from sliding further into oblivion.
No one deserves to be treated with such humiliation and disrespect, let alone grand patrons of the party who had legitimate reason to enter the party office.
What is seriously disturbing is the prima facie evidence suggesting that yesterday’s ugly scene was deliberately designed to cause humiliation and disgrace for the members of the Aspirant Alliance.
Whether one supports any of the Alliance members or not, constitutional justice and common sense dictates that no regulation or rule was violated yesterday by members of the Alliance.
Why did chairman Kapen agree at the PPRC meeting to invite all of the presidential aspirants to the NEC meeting as observers, knowing full well that they will be refused entry?
Why did chairman Kapen give orders to security, to refuse their entry into the building and prevent them from attending the NEC meeting? Was he pushed by others to do so?
At the SLPP main entrance, Kandeh Yumkella and the other Alliance members called for the attention of the national chairman, but it is understood that chairman Kapen told them: “I am sorry”.
This is shameful, duplicitous and chaotic. The opposition SLPP has a big problem with national credibility. It is carrying a heavy baggage, and yesterday’s ugly scene will not help the party shake the monkey off its back.
The surreptitious and concerted campaign to keep certain members of the party out, will certainly keep SLPP out of State House for a very long time to come, if it does not change its culture of covert discrimination and poor governance.