Hon. Lahai, Konuwa et al may be suspended
By Mohamed Massaquoi
Publicity Secretary of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has forwarded a motion for determination by the National Executive Council (NEC) requesting the suspension of the embattled Minority Leader, Hon. Francis Konuwa and 12 others from the party.
During a general meeting hosted at the party’s national secretariat at Wallace-Johnson Street in Freetown last Saturday, Hon. Tamba Sam accused Hon. Bernadette Lahai and her supporters of violating the SLPP constitution by “failing to adhere to a decision made by NEC during the State Opening of Parliament few months ago”.
According to Sam, SLPP lawmakers were strictly advised not to attend the State Opening of Parliament in December 2013 on the grounds that the government was interfering in the affairs of the opposition. But the Minority Leader, according to the opposition spokesman, mobilized her colleagues to attend the occasion without the approval of the party; a development he said created serious misgivings among the party’s membership.
Hon. Sam further noted that Dr. Lahai is only posing as Minority Leader thus denying Hon. Emma Kowa, the anointed candidate of some section of the beleaguered opposition party.
“We are very much aware of the flagrant disregard for the party’s decision by this group of MPs; it is a violation of the SLPP constitution. I want the general membership to support me with this motion that Bernadette Lahai and 14 others be suspended from the party. The SLPP constitution is very clear on the conduct of its members,” urged the former MP.
“All of us know the way Bernadette is carrying herself in Parliament, she is more of an APC MP than the SLPP she tend to represent.”
However, the matter as to whether the party followed due process in replacing Hon. Lahai as head of its parliamentary representatives is due to be decided tomorrow (25 June), months after the Minority Leader sought and got an injunction at the Freetown High Court to tentatively block her replacement.
The leadership of the party, who are in favour of replacing the current chairman and leader and the secretary-general, had called the meeting to discuss a proposal for the constitutional removal from office of the duo, Chief Somano Kapen and Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie respectively.
According to our reporter, grassroots supporters of the SLPP accused Chief Kapen and Tejan-Sie of illegally reinstating suspended members of the party without informing the national executive, thus “bringing the party into disrepute”.
They also alleged that since they were elected some eight months ago, the two men have not provided strong leadership in promoting peace and stability among party members.
The party has been embroiled in series of litigations and bitter acrimony between rival factions for the flag-bearer position since the national delegates’ conference in Bo.
A defeated aspirant for the position of chairman and leader, Ambassador Alie Bangura, has filed a petition at the Supreme Court alleging a flawed process and seeking to overturn the outcome. He was given an initial victory last week when the court ruled in his favour that his attorneys had followed and complied with rules of the court in filing their petition at the Registry and serving same on the respondents.
The current legal wrangling has been described as unfortunate by many, including party elders, who issued a press release to condemn “the illegal and constitutional attempt” to unseat the leader and scribe of the party.
A press release circulated by the secretary-general last week described the act as “illegal and unconstitutional” and admonished members of the public not to do business with the group now purporting to be leaders of the party.
Meanwhile, Hon. Emma Kowa, who was chosen to replace Dr. Lahai as Minority Leader, said the latter was disrupting the activities of the party in Parliament thus persistently undermining strong party motions in the bipartisan House.
“I want to send a strong message to the judge on the Bernadette [Lahai] matter that the entire country is looking at him. It is not the court that determines who should be our Minority Leader,” she said. “The party has taken a decision as to who should be the SLPP’s Minority Leader. We look forward to a verdict that actually displays true justice not only for SLPP but Sierra Leoneans.”