October 13, 2017 By Abu-bakarr Sheriff
The two major political parties in the country should have a standard bearer this weekend; the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) will be in their northern stronghold of Makeni, while their archrival the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) remain in Freetown, like in 2011, to elect their standard bearer.
But what does their respective party constitution say as to how to elect or select a standard bearer?
According to the SLPP Constitution of 2010, Clause 6(c) stipulates that “The party conference shall nominate a candidate for the presidential election using simple majority system.” Paragraph D of same clause states that the nominated presidential candidate has the discretion to choose his/her running mate in consultation with the National Executive Council.
As for the ruling APC, their 1995 constitution states that the National Delegates Conference, which is “the supreme authority of the party”, shall “elect/select the presidential candidate”. The national delegates’ conference also has the singular mandate to “approve or endorse the selection by the presidential candidate of the running mate.”
From the above provisions in the constitutions of both parties, it will be gleaned that national delegates from both parties have the mandate to elect or select their standard bearers.
Yet, one will be forgiven to think that the APC presidential aspirant would be ‘selected’ by President Ernest Bai Koroma or by the National Advisory Committee (NAC).
While efforts by the president and NAC should be commended for preparing the twenty odd candidates for a convivial convention, any move to usurp the power of national delegates, as enshrined in their constitution, would be null and void.
In addition, it is worth noting that Clause 6.9.2(v) of the APC constitution only speaks to the mode of voting in the conference, emphasing that “every delegates(sic) shall have only one vote.”
Curiously, the constitution makes no mention of how national delegates could “select” a presidential candidate. According to the Oxford dictionary, to select means to ‘carefully choose.’ Thus, if the APC constitution is anything to go by, and in the spirit of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone, which all political parties should follow, whether by way of election or selection, the APC candidate for the March 7, 2018 presidential election ought to be elected or carefully chosen by the national delegates, and not any one individual or group of individuals.
In conclusion, as both parties choose their presidential candidates over the weekend, there is every likelihood that, a future president would emerge from either of the two parties, in what political analysts say is a repeat of 2005, when the SLPP and APC converged in Makeni and Port Loko respectively, to vote for their presidential candidates.
It is hoped that, both parties will help foster democracy by following due process and engendering intra-party politics.