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Power tussle may split NPD

-but new chair says they are well focused

October 17, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Suspended:  Jesmed F. Suma
New Chairman of NPD, Wadi Williams

While other political parties are busy conducting elections to elect their presidential candidates and potential parliamentarians ahead of the March 7, 2018 multitier elections, the National Progress Democrats (NPD) is embroiled in infighting as to who should spearhead the affairs of the party.

Some supporters of the party have expressed displeasure about the current state of affairs in the new party, less than six months to elections. They say power struggle is the main preoccupation of senior party officials instead of making inroads to do well in the upcoming elections.

The hierarchy of the party has been split into two with both factions fighting for supremacy. Usman Turay, who claims to be a staunch supporter of the party, said: “Our party is heading for doom. Our leaders are fighting as to who should lead instead of electing our presidential candidate. I am not sure of us taking part in the March 7, 2018 elections.”

He called on the party’s hierarchy to put their differences aside and ensure that they elect a leader and contenders for the parliamentary election.

Membership and Policy Director, Jesmed Foday-Mamie Suma, alleges that he single-handedly registered the movement into a political party, as well as financed its activities, but another faction headed by Wadie Williams says Mr. Suma and others should get their hands off the party.

A national delegates’ convention was hosted few weeks ago in Port Loko, north of the country, which was observed by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), to elect national officers to run the affairs of the party.

Over the weekend, another national delegates’ conference was hosted at the hotel 5/10 in east Freetown and was again supervised by the PPRC because there were issues in the conduct of the last convention.

In an interview with Concord Times, Mr. Suma accused current chairman, Wadi Williams, of conniving with others to buy delegates for the convention.

He said a date for the convention was set without informing his faction and majority of the party’s members.

“We made frantic efforts to have some reconciliation with them for us to work together but to no avail. They breached the principles and laws of the party. Because our efforts proved futile, we decided to write a letter to the PPRC, pointing out the breaches of our constitution by these individuals. PPRC asked us to find a way of reconciling and resolving our internal issues,” he explained.

He claimed that he was illegally suspended as Membership and Policy Director of the party, adding that in the interest of sanity in the party, they decided to seek a court injunction to stop any planned convention going ahead, which he claimed was granted on 6 October.

He noted that even though all parties were served the court order, they went ahead with the conduct of conventions in Port Loko and Freetown respectively with the full blessings of the body regulating the conduct of political parties.

“We were disappointed that despite the fact that we had pointed out the specific breaches of the constitution, the PPRC failed to even discuss the grave constitutional breaches but went ahead and supervised the illegal conventions. The action of the PPRC is pathetic,” he stated.

According to him, the PPRC does not have the legal authority to determine how political parties constitute their executives but rather they can only make sure that parties act within the confines of the constitution and that of the PPRC Act.

Asked as to his next line of action, the suspended membership and policy director replied that they would be in the High Court today (October 17) to ask the court to nullify the illegal convention.

However, the party’s chairman, Wadi Williams, denied there is power struggle in the new party, adding that they are all well focused to win the 2018 multitier elections. He said they are working assiduously to ensure that their activities are conducted in line with the party’s constitution and the PPRC Act.

According to him, during several meetings with the PPRC, it was agreed in the presence of Jesmed Suma that they settle their internal differences.

“We agreed to host a meeting in Bo to discuss the issues affecting us and find a lasting solution. Unfortunately, Mr. Suma chose not to attend the meeting. We decided to suspend him from his position because of his alleged plans to bring the party into disrepute pending investigation,” he stated but noted that Mr. Suma is still a member.

He said a national convention was hosted few weeks ago in Port Loko where most of the national officers, with the exception of six, were elected to run the affairs of the party.

“Because we were unable to elect five or six people to serve in positions, we were advised by the PPRC to host another convention within twenty-one days to elect the remaining officers,” Mr. Williams explained.

In adherence to the advice by the PPRC, the NPD Chairman said the remaining officers were elected over the weekend at Hotel 5/10 in Freetown in the presence of a commissioner from the commission and that they now ready for the 2018 polls.

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