July 8, 2016 By Alusine Sesay
The candidate of the ruling All People’s Party (APC) in tomorrow’s parliamentary bye-election in constituency 050 in the Port Loko district has boasted that winning the election would not pose a problem to him, but the margin of defeat of his opponents.
Osman Karankay Conteh is a high school graduate, but by his admission with series of certificates, including a diploma in Logistics Studies. He contested the 2012 parliamentary election as a candidate of the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), but was narrowly defeated by the APC candidate, Ms. Isata Kabia.
Ms. Kabia though has since been appointed Minster of State II in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation by President Ernest Koroma, thus leaving the seat vacant.
He has since crossed over to the ruling party and rewarded the chance to contest as their candidate in the bye-election, and is hopeful of winning by a large margin.
“The people believe that I am a better representation. It is not a matter of winning the election, my problem would be the margin. I want to set record in the history of bye-elections in the country,” he boasted.
He said he was optimistic that even opposition members in the constituency would vote for him. “Even SLPP supporters in the constituency would vote for me,” he told our reporter.
Being a long time residence in the constituency, Conteh told Concord Times he had always associated himself “with my people at every crucial moment. I protected them during the war and have contributed immensely to the development of the constituency.”
“I have constructed bridges and made the movement of people easy. I have been an advocate and lobbied London Mining to provide employment for hundreds of youths in the constituency and I have been serving as a symbol of peace,” he explained.
He said his popularity in the constituency was unmatched and that “If I was able to get over one thousand votes in the past election more especially for the opposition SLPP, it means a lot.”
Since the constituency is an APC stronghold, he said “People love and believe in me and opted that I switch over to the APC so that they would vote for me overwhelmingly.”
Many questions are being asked as to why the ruling APC awarded him a symbol to contest after he contested as an aspirant of the main opposition and lost in the 2012 parliamentary elections.
But the APC hierarchy in the district may have learnt their lesson as they won by narrow margin in another parliamentary bye-election in constituency 030 in the Bombali district after they refused to put forward a young, popular and dynamic candidate.
The eventual winner, former Presidential Adviser, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, was challenged by Alliance Democratic Party leader Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray, who is also a candidate in Saturady’s bye-election.
However, Conteh insists he would defeat his opponent by a far bigger margin. “My popularity is overwhelming and there was no way the APC could have left me out. The outcome of the election would tell that I am the most popular candidate ever in the history of constituency 050,” he said.