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APC HQ celebrates VP expulsion

-  Diana Konomanyi also reprimanded

March 10, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie & Mohamed Massaquoi

The National Advisory Council (NAC) of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) on Friday (March 6) sanctioned the recommendation by an Investigation Committee to expel Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana from the party, for allegedly falsifying his graduate qualification while running as the party’s running-mate in the 2007 and 2012 presidential elections, and for “supporting thugs to attack senior party members” in his home district of Kono.

The NAC also expelled Kainday Bangura, a party stalwart in the Western Area, for allegedly providing funds to some undisclosed ladies “to abuse the mothers of senior party officials, including Deputy Chairman/Leader, Minkailu Mansaray”.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Diana Konomanyi, was also reprimanded for failing to provide vital information to the Committee, while an individual fine of Le500,000 was imposed on five women supporters of the party.

The unprecedented decision by the ruling party did not come as a surprise to many Sierra Leoneans as the relationship between the president and his vice had taken a nosedive at the end of their first term in office.

There was mad celebration by supporters of the party after the announcement was made at a hastily arranged presser by the party’s Secretary General, Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh.

Some of the joyous party members chanted: “We have finally got rid of him. He knows too much and he wants to divide us in the party.”

Even the facial expression of senior party officials, including Special Adviser to the President, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, who chaired the Investigation Committee; Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Momodu Alieu Pat-Sowe; and Presidential Youth Aide, Bai Mahmoud Bangura, clearly showed happiness with the decision.

As they sang the party’s victory song, supporters and those on the high table were seen dancing and laughing, reminiscent of post elections victory parties in 2007 and 2012.

But the party was briefly interrupted by a disabled supporter of the APC who took to the stage to ask a question, and even though he was told he was not a journalist, he forced his way to the front and said, “The decision you have taken is not a genuine one. All of you sitting on the high table are coming from the Northern Province,” in apparent reference to a northern plot against the veep who hailed from Kono district in the east.

An overzealous supporter went outside the party’s headquarters at Railway Line, west of the capital, with megaphone in hand, telling commuters and passersby the vice president and Kainday Bangura have been expelled from the party.

Furthermore, President Ernest Bai Koroma was seen smiling effervescently as he walked down the steps of the party office after the NAC meeting, with his facial expression being triumphant.

Outside the party office, the presidential motorcade moved slowly as he waved and smiled to ecstatic party supporters, who paid no regard to a ban on public gathering and avoiding body contact.

News about the expulsion of Vice President Sumana has dominated public discourse in the worst hit Ebola country in the sub-region. From local teashops (Ataya bases) to eateries, the mood has been dissatisfaction at the APC for taking such a controversial decision at a time when the country is grappling with the worst Ebola outbreak in the world.

Some who spoke on condition of anonymity opined that the decision was a deliberate attempt by the ruling party to divert citizens’ attention from asking questions about the mismanagement of Ebola funds by both public and private officials, as stated in the Auditor General’s report on the audit of the management of Ebola funds, from May to October 2014.

However, Chairman of the Investigation Committee, Alhaji I.B. Kargbo, told newsmen that the VP Sam-Sumana’s membership of the APC added no value to the party, which is why they recommended his expulsion, in the face of the serious allegations against him.

He explained that the nine-man committee called witnesses who testified against the vice president, following an official complaint by Karamoh Kabba, Deputy Minister of Political and Public Affairs.

“During our investigation, we found out that indiscipline was crippling its way back into the party and dishonesty has become a common practice. There is also disregard for some senior members of our party,” Alhaji Kargbo said.

When asked as to whether Alhaji Sam-Sumana will be removed from his position as vice president of the country since he is no longer an APC member, the party’s scribe, Osman Foday Yansaneh quipped: “We have done our own part by expelling him from our party and it is now left with the law to decide. Mind you, we made him our running-mate and not vice president.”

The APC scribe accused VP Sumana of “being responsible for the wave of unrests in his hometown of Kono”, some 400 kilometers from the capital Freetown, as well as being on the verge of forming his own party.

Meanwhile, VP Sumana, who is on a self-imposed quarantine after one of his security officers reportedly died of Ebola, is yet to comment on his expulsion from the ruling party, which he joined in 2007, few months to crucial presidential elections, when the current ruling party was then in the opposition.

The mood in his home district of Kono was reportedly calm, as at press time.

A local journalist in Koidu, Abass Kallon, told Concord Times that the mood in Kono remains subdued since the news broke out last Friday, although youth and elders could be seen holding pocket discussions, apparently trying to make sense out of the seeming political drama.

More than two years ago, the mood in Kono was celebratory as President Ernest Bai Koroma had stuck with his vice president as his running-mate in the 2012 presidential election – for the second time – amid allegations of corruption and rumours that he would dump him.

Women and youth took to the streets of Kono to jubilate the news way into the night.

In Kenema and Kailahun districts, respectively, some APC youths reportedly celebrated when news filtered through about the VP’s expulsion. Alex Vandi, a local journalist in Kenema, said a sizeable number of members of the APC Youth Wing in the city immediately converged at their regional party office, along Hangha Road, to celebrate.

“You know the political dynamics of the country. A good number of them are coming out because they do not want to be seen working against the decision of senior members of the party. But I will say categorically that they are not happy that VP is no more a member of the APC,” Vandi said in a telephone interview.

Meanwhile, leaders of political parties in the country have been commenting on the unprecedented political development in the country.

Chairman and Leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Mohamed Bangura, said decisions to expel a member from any political party is dependent on the gravity of the crime committed and that may differ from one party to another.

He said the issue was purely within the purview of the disciplinary committee of the APC, and suggested that the VP should tender his resignation as “principal assistant” to the president.

“These allegations, including undermining the ruling party by forming another political party, false academic documents and religious manipulations, all fall under the sector of integrity and credibility. All of these are heinous offences; so because of the moral values that surround the Office of the Vice President, I will advise him to resign because there is already a clear cut demarcation between him and President Koroma. Remember the president is the chairman of the party,” Bangura averred.

When quizzed whether he has taken into consideration the country’s constitution, Bangura said the ruling party’s decision to expel the vice president has direct ramification on his position, and hence the need for a swift decision on the part of the vice president.

But leader of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), Charles Francis Margai, said it was premature for him to comment on the issue as the vice president is yet to issue a statement on his expulsion from the ruling party.

“I will make a statement but not now. Let us follow up what is happening at the moment,” the veteran lawyer and politician said.

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