… And the Incumbent remains the most popular candidate
By Abubakarr Kamara | The AfricaPaper
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – The Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) announced in July that ten political parties have met the criteria stated in the PPRC Act and according to law; they are eligible to contest in the Nov. 17 elections.
However, with barely 10 days to election, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has been ruled-off from fielding a presidential candidate after an injunction by the High Court that prevented NDA from doing so. The nine political parties are already accusing each other of milking the country dry.
Wrestle for Power
The popularity of incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma will be put to test on Nov. 17, when eight other Sierra Leoneans from various political parties will democratically seek to wrestle power with him for the country’s highest seat.
The main opposition parties are: Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), Peoples Liberation Party (PLP), United National People’s Party (UNPP), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP), United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Citizen Democratic Party (CDP).
They have all expressed optimism to clinch State House though Koroma’s main concern is the SLPP candidate, retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio,
who was Head of State for six weeks in the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) dying days.
Both the ruling APC and the opposition SLPP candidates have been pulling
crowds in most of their rallies though the Koroma has gained more grounds in the Southeast, which is the stronghold of the SLPP. There has been some amount of violence between these two parties especially in their respective strongholds but not enough to spark a nationwide uproar. While the ruling APC is accusing the main opposition SLPP of instigating violence amongst voters. Likewise the SLPP is also accusing the APC of the same.
Recently, the issue of discussion was what the SLPP described as the “surreptitious entry of former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo into the country.”
Alhaji Alpha Kanu, the ruling party Spokesman denied the allegation and explained that the government is aware of the former president’s coming to the country and that he is a friend of President Koroma.
Obasanjo was in Freetown last week but headed for Kabala in the north, where the president was busy campaigning. He made a statement endorsing Koroma at a enormous gathering in the township of Kabala.
However, the most interesting aspect in the race to State House is the spate of mudslinging currently going on especially between the UDM and NDA, who have been stealing the political show and recently Albert Joshua Carew’s newly registered CDP said both the APC and SLPP lacked the ability and sincerity to move the country forward. Mr. Carew was confident, when he said his party will not allow Koroma a second term. He noted that the country riches are harnessed by greedy politicians, who put their interest before the nation.
In its quest to gain popularity, the NDA aided by some media houses have been raising dust where there seems to be none, to the extent that the UDM had in most cases challenged the NDA spokesman on issues of national interest. There was a time when some executive members of the NDA went public to say that some of the party’s hierarchy has packaged the party to sell to the highest bidder, which they described as the opposition-SLPP, and this did not go down well with the party leader. The allegation was denied by both the NDA hierarchy and the SLPP Secretariat; and both described the allegations as a fabrication to destroy their hard earned reputations.
The NDA were restricted from presenting a presidential candidate when one of their flag-bearer aspirants, Mohamed Pateh Bah took them to Court for what he described as “Constitutional Matters” and the High Court Judge, Justice Charm slammed the NDA party an injunction, which made them ineligible to present a presidential candidate. The matter is still in court.
The PMDC which was a deciding factor in the 2007 general elections is gradually moving towards the graveyard. Similarly, the United National People’s Party (UNPP), which came second in 1996 and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which was third in the 1996 elections slowly fading in the political race. PDP’s presidential candidate, Charles Francis Margai’s popularity is waning as the day goes by and there is every likelihood that this time around the third force will be the newly registered United Democratic Movement, which has a former journalist, Mohamed Bangura as its presidential candidate.
Apart from these four, the APC, SLPP, UDM and the PMDC, all the other parties have been silent, save for few radio interviews and campaigning trips to the provinces.
Meanwhile, Political Analysts are optimistic, the elections will be free from violence as all Sierra Leoneans are hoping and also noted that unless the opposition is united, President Koroma will win the polls.