…says they are civilised, decent and cultured
January 16, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Acting Publicity Secretary of the Somana Kapen faction of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Imran Sillah, has stated that the party would rise again to its rich tradition that has kept it going for over 50 years.
He made the above statement in an exclusive interview with Concord Times last Thursday in Freetown, where he called on Sierra Leoneans to join them in the drive towards national reconciliation which will include tolerance, job opportunity for jobless youth, women and children’s empowerment, respect for human rights, the constitution and the rule of law, food sufficiency, and sound healthcare delivery for all, among a host of others.
“Things have changed since 4th of January, 2017 when the Chairman and Leader, Chief Somano Kapen, called a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting [that was] attended by 70 percent of NEC members of which 50 percent were current Members of Parliament (MPs). NEC took a decision to expel and suspend certain people within the party and filled the vacant positions with new executive members. I was then appointed to be acting Publicity Secretary of the party,” he said.
That decision by the Somano Kapen-led faction meant the fractious opposition party now has two executives, both claiming legitimacy over the other, with the other led by Dr. Prince Harding, who was deputy to Chief Kapen.
However, Mr.Sillah said he was optimistic that the new executive was forward- looking and would bring hope for people within the party and the nation at large.
“Our responsibility is to give voice to the voiceless and ensure that every Sierra Leonean benefits from the national cake. We will also advocate for every issue that the people are grappling with. Issues on education, health, economy, agriculture, electricity, among other things,” he said.
He denied that the decision on 4th January meant they were at war with each other within the SLPP as their intention was to bring people together.
He noted that the executive headed by Chief Somano Kapen was opened to dialogue and engagement with every SLPP member in order to encourage them to come together and get ready for the elections in 2018.
Asked what Sierra Leoneans should bank their hopes on and look forward to the SLPP to serve as a vibrant opposition on their behalf, he conceded that the party has suffered in terms of people’s perception. “Some say it is a divided party and there so many negative things happening within the party, among others, but they should believe in us to salvage the current rotten system in the country.”
“Despite the internal struggle within the SLPP, we are still able to be a voice for millions of Sierra Leoneans. We still speak on their behalf on problems of health, cost of living, education, economy, etc. We will still provide them with alternatives to all the above mentioned problems that are affecting our daily lives,” he said.
He appealed to Sierra Leoneans to be patient with the party and judge the new executive if it fails to deliver its mandates.
He added, “We are putting everything in place for us not to fail the people of this country. They still expect us to represent and give them voice on the current mess that the governing All People’s Congress (APC) has brought to us and we will do just that.”
He insisted that the Chief Somano-led executive would ensure a level playing ground for every Sierra Leonean, adding that they would do so by ensuring that the rule of law, national constitution, and rules and regulations governing the state are strictly adhered to at all times.
In response to claims that the current executive lacks mandate to deliver what people expect from an opposition party, he said such was the theory put forward by those who were crying foul over the NEC’s decision of 4th January, 2017. He revealed that in that NEC meeting he saw supporters of every flag-bearer aspirants of the SLPP and 50 percent opposition lawmakers, including Minority Leader Dr. Bernadette Lahai and his Deputy Ansu Kaikai, in attendance, and that they got a quorum of 70 NEC members instead of 51.
Asked to describe the new executive in three words, Imran Sillah replied “they are civilised, decent and cultured”.