September 14, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Ten out of thirteen Political Parties that form the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP), on Monday, 13 September, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to seek national cohesion and fight against bad governance in Sierra Leone.
The event, which took place at the New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown, attracted different political parties, civil society organisations, well-wishers and think tank members who serve as advisers to the consortium.
Chairman of the occasion, who doubles as deputy leader of the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), said the absence of the three other parties was due to international trips and other unavoidable reasons.
The Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (COPPP) is a group of thirteen opposition political parties registered with the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) in Sierra Leone that have seen the need to create a platform for dialogue and the expression of collective will to defend and safeguard democracy, accountability, human Rights and the Rule of Law .
The mission of COPPP is to harness the power of their numbers, their combined materials and human resources to hold government in checks and prevent the country from sliding down into the dark waters of unbridled corruption, maladministration and civil strife.
In his welcome address, Secretary General of the All People’s Congress Party (APC) Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh, said it was the first time in the country’s history that opposition parties formed a consortium that will be there to monitor the excesses of government.
“The consortium was not formed to oppose the government for opposition sake, but we will not condone the abuse of human rights, the abuse of our constitution, and a method of division among countrymen. We are ready to support any genuine effort by government that will be bringing development to the nation,” he said.
The APC Sectary General said the attempt by government to depoliticize Local Councils was the bedrock for the formation of the Consortium, noting that the voice of the consortium is bigger than any single political party.
Ambassador Yansaneh said the main reason for the formation of the consortium was to object any attempt by the sitting government to use unlawful and controversial decisions that will impede the development of the country.
On behalf of the Advisory members, Charles Francis Margai Esq said the consortium’s main objective should not be to unseat the present government, but rather to serve as a watch dog against sitting government.
He earlier on informed the consortium that he had taken a critical look on the letter written by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) to the consortium and that it was never intended to deregister them.
He said PPRC’s intention was to make political parties do what is right.
According to the MOU, the ten political parties commit themselves “to harness the collective strength of our political parties and use available resources to oppose, reject and condemn bad governance, all violations of the Rule of Law and of the rights of citizens by the current Government of Sierra Leone and to eventually put an end to the suffering of the people of this country by using democratic and lawful means to identify controversial policies or decisions taken by the Government that are inimical to the interest of the people, educate the citizenry on such issues and take appropriate actions to reverse them.”
They agreed to develop a strategic plan as a tool that will comprehensively define its goals, strategic objectives, activities and action to provide a roadmap for the emergence of a collective electoral agenda.
They further commit themselves to share information, intelligence and analyses about national issues and to pool together human, material and financial resources in pursuing their common objectives.
They noted that their main aim was to defend democracy in Sierra Leone and vigorously oppose all type of political oppression, intimidation and authoritarian tendencies.
They also commit themselves to the principle of harmonious co-existence and to resolve all inter-party conflicts and disagreements away from the glare of media and public scrutiny.
All parties in the Consortium agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement and in case a party decides to opt out of the Consortium, it shall give one month notice to allow for exit arrangements including securing of data, information and property of the consortium.
“Notwithstanding its vocation of political opposition, the consortium shall be willing to join in any national effort that, by our assessment, is geared towards the socio-economic, political and environmental development of Sierra Leone.”
The consortium agreed to engage and organize their respective memberships at local level to hold inter-party meetings, consultations on important issues and undertake collective and unified action thereby creating a foundation of trust and common purpose for members of the Consortium
They also agreed to instruct their representatives in Parliament to hold regular meetings, consult and agree on common positions to be taken on items listed on the Order Paper and related matters.
In the event of part of or the whole Consortium evolving into an alliance or a coalition, according to the MOUU,the willing members will enter into a separate agreement that will spell out the nature of their union and the terms of their engagement.
“In the event that any registered political party makes an application to join the Consortium and become a member, and provided that they share the ideals, values, aims and object of the Consortium, they may be so admitted by consensus of the existing members.”