October 12, 2016 By Sahr Morris Jr.
The National Olympic Committee of Sierra Leone (NOC-SL) on Tuesday boycotted the Sierra Leone Athletics Association (SLAA) elective congress that was organised by the five-man interim committee with the support if the National Sports Council (NSC).
Members of the NOC-SL were expected to be part of the said congress following an invitation from the NSC, but their no show sent a strong signal that they are not part of the said congress.
The tussle within the SLAA has lasted for so long and it could be recalled that in 2015, stakeholders of the association called for the intervention of the then Acting Director of Sports, Saidu Mansaray, and the General Secretary of the National Olympic Committee, Joseph Nyande, to get their executive to convene the organisation’s congress.
A letter signed by 19 officials, mainly club Presidents and Secretaries General, informed the pair that the SLAA executive committee had been silent over the pronouncement of a date for the congress which they were dissatisfied.
On 20th November 2015 at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown, then SLAA secretary general, Dauda Sundufu Sowa, organised an elective congress without the consent of his boss, Abdul Karim Sesay.
But before the staging of the election, the NOC-SL in a press release stated that they will not recognise an executive that is not elected through congress organised by the sitting executive. Sowa and his followers went on with the election, with former Sierra Leone Defense Minister, Paolo Conteh, emerging as president of the association, while Sowa maintained the Secretary General position.
However, the World Athletic governing body, IAAF, kicked against such move and revealed that they will not recognise the said executive.
In December, another congress was summoned but it ended in chaos following confrontation between the erstwhile Minister of Sports, Paul Kamara, and Palo Conteh, as the former insisted that the latter was not qualified to contest.
Despite the chaos, the congress was reportedly conducted in another venue, with Karim Sesay pronounced winner, a move that led to several protest by the other factions over the credibility of such congress.
After several consultative meetings and engagement with the two parties by the NSC and Sports Ministry, no headway was reached, and on 5 October, the ministry and NSC announced Tuesday, 11 October, 2016 as the re-elective congress date.
Despite several calls, the Karim executive boycotted the said congress, while Martin Bangura was said to have been elected as the unopposed president.