Bangura’s ‘renewed excellence focus’ surrenders to Kelvin’s quiet diplomacy
June 3, 2016
In a what many observers would described as one of the hotly contested elections ever in the history of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists(SLAJ) ,incumbent President Kelvin Lewis has emerged as the winner with 188, defeating his opponent ,Stanley Bangura who secured 139 votes.
He defeated his opponent by 41 -vote merging and his re-election into office has automatically earned him another three years as President of SLAJ.
The two presidential Candidates on Tuesday, May 31st presented their tickets to voters at a debate organized by the Sierra Leone Reporters Union at the Miatta Conference Hall.
Incumbent President Kelvin Lewis narrated his achievements during his three years tenure and canversed voters that “I want you to vote me in to continue this transformation. I am not interested in personality but want a strong and stable SLAJ.”
He cited among many other achievements the sourcing of support for specialized training for journalists in investigative journalism, health, gender and environmental reporting.
He also cited the formal registration of the association, which he said was operating for over 45 years without registration certificate.
President Lewis further cited proper financial management as among some of his key achievements.
He told the gathering he served as a symbol of peace throughout his tenure and that no single member of the association was driven away, although some kept bashing at him on the social media.
“I make sure I keep everybody in the association and allow them to say whatever they wanted to. That is symbol of peaceful leadership,” he said.
He said the association has a responsibility to hold government to account and that it would be the voice of the people to take on issues which are not partisan but national.
On national issues he said “I believe in quiet diplomacy. I don’t believe in burning bridges our bridges before we cross them. I believe in negotiation.”
On his part, incumbent Vice President Stanley Bangura presented a written manifesto to voters with the theme ‘Renewed Excellence Focus’ (REF).
“Ref is mostly used as a short form for ‘referee’ and ‘reference.’ This what I want SLAJ to be in the ensuing year- a referee to bring sanity in our practice and reference body for anything good around and about the media or journalism in Sierra Leone,” he said.
He promised to rectify issues bordering on the association including autonomy for the regions, provision of identification cards for members within 60 days, transparency and accountability, the provision of permanent structure, unification of the association, and the ending of marginalization and corruption.
On the broader national issue affecting the practice of journalism –the Criminal Libel Law of 1965, he promised to use innovative means and intensify campaigns for it to expunge from the country’s law book.
He also promised to be proactive and ensure that the rights of journalists to free speech and press freedom are protected and promoted, adding that he would capacitate the association’s regional offices.
Meanwhile, the two presidential candidates were not at variance in their approach to national issues and other issues affecting journalism in the country as both opted to negotiating and dialoging with the government to achieve their intended goals.
Opinion poll to the run up of the election was unpredictable because both candidates were incumbents who enjoyed similar support from members.
But the voters have spoken and voted the ‘quiet diplomacy’ and continued transformation of Incumbent President Kelvin Lewis.
For the position of Vice Presidency, Samuel Haffner emerged as the winner with 177 votes as against his opponent, Kashow Holland Cole, who secured 146 votes.
Meanwhile, Sulaiman Stom Koroma went unopposed for the position of Vice Secretary after his opponent, Joseph Turay, who was the incumbent, was disqualified.
Turay was said to have been disqualified for his failure to pay the associations monthly dues in time before the elections in Bo.
The Secretary General position went unopposed and in favour of veteran cartoonist and feature writer,Ahmed Sahid Nasrallah.
Zainab Joque lost to Abu Bakarr Jalloh for the position of Organizing Secretary ,while Princess Gipson of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation defeated Abdul Karim Kabia aka Fonti for the position of Publicity Secretary.