Historic Presidential debate raises hope for Salone’s democracy

February 20, 2018 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara


Six presidential candidates representing the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Julius Maada Bio, ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) Dr. Samura Kamara, Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray, Citizen’s Democratic Party (CDP) Musa Tarawally, and Coalition for Change (C4C) Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana last Thursday night were given the opportunity to talk about their aspirations to the nation in a widely publicised presidential debate.

The debate, which is organised by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and Sierra Leone Decides 2018 Series, courtesy of Africa Young Voices (AYV), among other groups, was the first after since the civil war ended in 2002.

The other ten presidential candidates who were left out were expected to have be given ten minutes to speak but they boycotted the occasion.

All six presidential candidates were given the opportunity to make snappy introductory statements. The six presidential candidates explained their vision and plans in health, education, sport, corruption, women’s empowerment, water, and housing, among a host of other issues.

Below is what each presidential candidate said.

Violence against women

Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio – SLPP

The women constitute 51% of our population. We would ensure that violence against them are eradicated completely. We would add to the existing laws to ensure robust measures are put in place to safeguard their dignity and respect in society.

Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray

Change is action-oriented. That is why I appointed a woman as running mate. Her being by my side, we would work amicably to fight violence against women.

Dr. Kandeh Yumkella

We have to ensure the enactment of tough laws to protect our women folks.

Alhaji Sam Sumana

I have been protecting women since when I was the Vice President of this country and I would continue in that direction.

Dr. Samura Kamara

I will continue to be a strong advocate for women and enforce the three Gender Acts in our country. 

Commitment to non-violence election:

Dr. Kandeh Yumkella

We believe in inclusiveness and we do not believe in violence. I want to pledge to Sierra Leoneans that we would continue the march towards progressiveness. But the country would only be peaceful when the rule of law is obeyed. We have in fact suffered violence in the hands of APC both at Mile 91 and Kambia. We are committed to peace.

Alhaji Sam Sumana

I stand here very proud as an example of someone that believes in nonviolence because during my unconstitutional removal as the VP of this nation, I resolved that I will give peace a chance unlike what happened in South Sudan or recently in Zimbabwe. Our people have suffered a lot during the civil war. But I uphold the constitution and seek redress wherein I restore the dignity of our constitution. 

Alhaji Musa Tarawallie

My party is in coalition with three other parties. We believe in inclusion. I have transformed a lot of youths from being violent to useful citizens. We are a fine example of how Sierra Leone will move forward.

Dr. Samura Kamara

For the last ten years we have enjoyed peace and so it is important during this election we try to ensure that there is peace and tranquility. We don’t want our youths or anybody to die for just one event. Violence normally happens when politicians like us who are desperate that at all cost we must be winner and that is where we use the youths wrongfully to drive our ambition.

But our party is very committed to ensure that there is peace during this election

Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

I would start to say that I am a victim of APC violence; I was attacked in Bo and injured during the run-up to the 2012 elections. Violence is actually a national disease and that is as a result of the weak law enforcement in the country. Few other people are favoured to be above the laws.

We believe that this election would be violence-free. We lost the last election under very dubious circumstances but we followed the rule of law and we are always ready to do that, but I want to assert our position that the election must be free, fair and transparent. 

Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray

My message is directed to the youths. Please don’t allow politicians to use you to cause mayhem. Most of them, their children are abroad. So be wise and be peaceful. We only have one Sierra Leone. We stand firm to say that we will conform to the rule of law for a credible election peaceful election.

Health and education

Musa Tarawallie:

Health sector is key to the development of this nation. We have to support it locally. To achieve this I would change the Road Funds to Health Fund so that every cent derived from it would be used to support the health. I would also bring the Environmental Protection Agency under health and sanitation too. I would also make sure we encourage investment in the health sector to produce medicine locally and establish internationally certified training centre for nurses, doctors and engineers.

To promote education, I would encourage a faith base educational system where religious organisations would invest in our educational system. 

Dr. Samura Kamara

These are testimonies that my running mate and I encountered in several parts of the country during our campaign tour. In many parts of the country, especially in the Shebro Island where children are deprived of education, there is the difficult of water, toilet and even communication.

I blame government for this deplorable condition in the education system.

The youths are uneducated. I do believe we will provide high standard of education that would provide jobs nationally and internationally at large 

Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

The human capital is the most important thing and asset in the country. For someone to contribute meaningful in the society, one must have education in order to become productive in this modern world.

We have stated in our manifesto that we will provide free education from primary to secondary school. The free education covers school fees, books, uniform and other school materials.

You cannot develop a country without a healthy population.  We have to utilise the limited resources we have to prevent disease, control and surveillance. We have to make sure that we have the right people to control this sector so as to achieve the dreams and aspiration of the people of this beloved country.

Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray:

We have archaic medical system in this country. I will change the system in three weeks when I become president!

For education, I have already started building schools with my own resources, so just imagine when I become President; I will do more than that. Every child will be entitled to quality education and they would never again share answer sheets in public examinations.

Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkeella

The education system is the worst legacy of the APC regime. We will reform the Ministry of Education and split it into two directorates: one for basic education and one for tertiary. We will construct more schools as 42% of the population are youths.

We would give pin codes to 30,000 teachers that are yet to receive it. We would work with the private sector because private schools are doing well, why not government schools. We are considering a compulsory free primary education

For health, we will train more nurses and doctors. I will work closely with College of Medicines and Allied Health Sciences to expand their programme so that we would increase on the number of our health staff.

Why would the electorates vote you?

Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella

Sierra Leoneans, my party believes in inclusive society that is free, fair and just. Where every individual has the opportunity to unleash their potential. My interest in leading you is for the common man, ensure jobs for the youth. The National Grand Coalition has a unique package for you.

Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray

All of my colleagues here have worked for different positions under the Sierra Leone government and have failed this nation. The only person that has the tenancy to lead this country is me. Test me and see.

He explained a scaring story of a forty-seven year-old man who became frustrated with life in Sierra Leone and who prefers to be dog in America as dogs are well cared for in the US.

I have been the only opposition party that has been challenging issues on behalf of the people of this country; all of them are just coming 

Musa Tarawallie:

The country’s politicking has removed God from the process. It is enshrined with politics of tribalism, colour, connectivism(sic) above the development of the people, that is why we have to establish God as a driven force to guide all of us that want to lead you. Hence God leads then we will achieve the development activities of this country.


Alhaji Sam Sumana

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, I stand today to first thank you for electing me to serve you as VP from 2007-2012 and from 2012 to 2015 when I was unconstitutionally removed by the president. But I uphold the peace of this country instead of going back to the bush. I ran away to Ghana to give peace a chance. I want you to give me the opportunity to come back and restore the dignity of the constitution and the Judiciary.

Women’s empowerment: no more 30% quota but equal percentage for all. I will revive the economy and create jobs for our youths so that ‘bra u borbor dae oh’ (expressing primordial loyalty to politicians) would be thing of the past. They would be productive citizens.


Dr. Samura Kamara:

A very big day for all of us. You have listened to six of the sixteen political parties contesting the March 7 polls. But always remember the greatest development in this country is done in last ten years by the APC regime. Road, energy, health, etc. The lessons learnt from the Ebola scourge means that we have to do more in that area. Water, education, security sector, yes we have to do more, that is why you have somebody like me that honestly appreciate what the government have done before and try to move forward. I want your support. This is my Sierra Leone, our Sierra Leone.

Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

My fellow Sierra Leoneans, I have served this nation as your head of state, commander-in-chief of RSLAF, and your first Chief of Defense Staff. So, I have the experience of running a state and I did so when it was at war. If you want to hit the ground running, then I am your best candidate, I am not an apprentice.

I promise to provide credible disciplined leadership to help us move the development process of this country. I’m very modest, I am one of the most enduring political figures of our time and the most popular at this point in time. I remember they call me ‘father of democracy’ because I promised democracy in this country and I delivered. I promised peace for this country and I delivered. So when I make promises it is on a credible platform that you can rely on.

I fought for this nation when many of you were in hiding.

The people are suffering from rampant corruption and mismanagement of the APC, so if you want that suffering to end vote Julius Maada Bio and the SLPP.