July 4, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) yesterday announced that he was “with immediate effect, suspending my bid for the flag-bearer of the SLPP”, adding that he would work with others to create a Grand Coalition of Progressives in a collective effort to bring hope and transformation to the country.
Dr. Yumkella made the above statement during a presser held at the New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown.
Also in attendance were former Vice Presidents Solomon Ekuma Berewa and Joe Demby, Isata Jabbie-Kabbah, wife of Late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, erstwhile SLPP Chairman Western Area, Brima Keita, and a host of others.
Until the suspension of his bid for the flag-bearer position of the country’s main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Dr. Yumkella was regarded as a major challenger to Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who is the favourite to clinch his party’s ticket for the second time.
The announcement to ‘suspend’ his flag-bearer bid did not come as a surprise to many as his supporters have been calling on him to quit the opposition party for weeks.
He seems to have given in to pressure to leave the SLPP although he stopped short of announcing that he has quit the party.
He said: “I ask my supporters at home and abroad to rally around the proposed new mechanism through which we shall vigorously pursue and promote our progressive agenda of hope, opportunity and transformation. The struggle for the soul of our country- political, social, and economic – has began (sic) and we will now be accelerated under the new structure.”
He added that additional details about the new dispensation and highlights of what he referred to as his energised campaign would be announced in due course.
The former top UN diplomat recalled that nearly two years ago he returned home with full excitement to put the knowledge, skills, experience, exposure and contacts he had acquired on the world stage to serve his country.
“I made a deliberate choice to operate from the political foundation of the SLPP, the party for which my father, mother, uncles, and other noble men and women in our country suffered and went to prison over a period of over twenty-five years. But our experience in the SLPP has taught us a unique lesson that in a democracy, liberty and freedom cannot be taken for granted,” he said.
He disclosed that his movement has been engaged in a fight against SLPP hegemons for a level playing field as they latter seek to maintain their grip on party structures at the expense of democracy and fair play.
He noted that: “We believe that democracy has never been about numbers only or political calculus that culminates in kinsmen/women converging to eat and receive the spoils of office. It’s about core values juxtaposed with competing interests and complex choices, about rights and obligations, the protection of the weak and putting a cap on the power of those in position of power.”
He said the political project of the KKY Movement was to bring back democracy that is anchored on fighting for social justice and the protection of the rights of all citizens regardless of their tribe, region, religious and political affiliation.
“As things are today, democracy has been choked, suffocated, stifled and rendered meaningless in the SLPP, and to some extent, in our nation. Politics has been reduced to corruption and kleptocracy by oligarchs and it’s now become a zero sum game. Cabals justify that it is the turn of this group or that ethnic group to eat or have access to the national treasury,” he asserted.
He claimed that since he announced his intention to vie for the position of flag-bearer of the SLPP, he and his supporters have had to put up with a great deal of harassment and violence. He further explained that throughout the various stages of the contest for flag-bearer position, there was a deliberate policy by certain groups in control of the party structures to aggressively exclude any person or group of persons that do not support their candidate.
“In order to restore decency and dignity to a party that has gone astray, I joined forces with other potential flagbearer candidates who professed to share the same desire for a fair contest on a level playing field. That collective effort in pursuit of constitutionality also did not work as the current leadership of the party continues to pursue a parochial path of exclusion and intimidation which runs against the core values of the party founded by our forefathers,” he said.
He said their quest is not for self-aggrandizement, but for a better Sierra Leone, and as a result, they have decided to return to their “country first agenda”.