Bio reaffirms commitment to peace process

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March 7, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Lead contender for the standard bearer of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has reaffirmed his commitment to the peace process within the party, the rule of law and constitutionality.

In February this year, the twelve aspirants for the standard position of the party, in a peace meeting, decided to put their differences behind and speak with one voice, so as to defeat the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party in the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and local council elections slated for March 7th, 2018.

In a signed communiqué, they agreed among other things, to reinstate national executive members elected since 2013, withdraw all court cases and make the party headquarters accessible to all. But the peace process is reported to have been derailed as a result of some disagreement among members regarding the controversy over the results of the lower level elections conducted in 39  constituencies. While the Freetown High Court has ruled that the said results be upheld, some members of the alliance are adamant about a redo of the said election.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio stated that: “As a key stakeholder, I will continue to appeal to fellow intending aspirants and the general membership to exercise utmost restraint. I would therefore urge the peace mediators to continue their efforts towards achieving sustainable peace within the SLPP and hereby assure them of my continuing support.”

He recalled using his visits to different districts in January, this year, to call for peace in the SLPP, and that on January 19, 2017, in a letter to the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) calling for its mediation, he identified two dimensions of the problem in the SLPP namely; the intra-executive impasse and second the controversy surrounding the 39 constituencies.

He said a meeting convened by the National Executive Council reversed all suspensions and expulsions since 2013, which led to the reinstatement of the elected National Chairman and Leader, Chief Somanoh Kapen and also resolved that a Special Committee re-assesses and re-examines the case of the 39 constituencies in light of the Court Ruling of February 15, 2017.

According to him, the core arguments before the Special Committee crystallised around two irreconcilable views; ignoring the ruling and cancel (not redo) all 39 disputed lower level elections, respect the rule of law and avoid opening a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences.

“The Special Committee (with only 1 dissenting view out of 5) finally recommended to NEC that the Party upholds the Court Ruling. It is expected that a NEC meeting scheduled for March 11, 2017 will discuss the recommendations of the Special Committee,” he said and added that whilst awaiting the NEC meeting, the plaintiffs had gone ahead and filed an appeal with a view to overturning the High Court ruling.

While recognising  that it is their right to appeal, the retired brigadier opined that their action constitutes a breach of the NEC Resolution of February 14, 2017 and the Party’s Code of Conduct.

“Also, I personally think this appeal is premature as the recommendation of the Special Committee is a matter for the consideration of NEC,” he added.