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SLPP Convention will go ahead

…but flag bearer election deferred to October

September 13, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

SLPP Chairperson, Chief Sumano Kapen

A press statement issued yesterday by the Serra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and signed by its Chairman and Leader, Chief Bai Shebora Somanoh Kapen III, says they have agreed that national delegates’ conference – where the election of new national executive officers will be conducted – would go ahead as planned, while the standard bearer election has been deferred to October 6 and 7, twenty-one days after the election of national officers.

The deferment of the standard bearer election until October will come as a huge psychological boost for one of the aspirants, John Oponjo Benjamin, who had threatened to go to court if that issue and the list of delegates were not addressed ahead of the convention.

Mr. Benjamin had argued that the national delegates’ conference cannot go ahead as planned because there are grey areas that needed to be addressed.

The release from the SLPP stated that the decision to conduct elections for national officers during this weekend’s conference and defer the standard bearer election was reached after a meeting between the outgoing executive and aspirants vying to lead the party in the March 7, 2018 multitier elections.

“The meeting also agreed that a second national conference will be convened in Freetown from the 6 to 7 October, 2017 for the purpose of electing the party’s presidential candidate for the presidential election of March 7, 2018,” the release stated.

Mr. Benjamin, who had served as Chairman and Leader of the main opposition party, besides threatening to take the party to court if the present leadership failed to do the right thing before hosting the conference, had also refused to pay the standard bearer fee, insisting that the tenure of the current national officers ended two years ago.

While hosted by Radio Democracy (FM98.1) on their ‘Good Morning Salone Programme’ yesterday, the party’s current Chairman and Leader, Chief Kapen, had cast serious doubt as to whether the national delegates’ conference would go ahead in Kenema as planned.

“I will not say out rightly yes or no on the hosting of the convention because I don’t want to pre-empt what will be discussed at the PPRC. We should look at issues in a bid to addressing them instead of tearing ourselves apart,” he said.

He expressed dissatisfaction over comments made by the public relations officer of the party’s Independent Elections Monitoring and Oversight Committee, Dr. Dennis Sandy, on the conference during Monday’s programme.

He said if Dr. Sandy should have read the two set of rules and regulations very clearly, he should not have gone ahead to talk on the issue in public.

“It was sad when I heard Dr. Sandy as a commissioner of IEMOC yesterday on this programme talking on an issue that is still on the balance emphatically. As a seasoned civil servant, I always maintain the principle of confidentiality. It is not the role of a commissioner to act as a PRO,” he chided.

According to Chief Kapen, they were advised by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) during one of their meetings against saying anything regarding issues surrounding the hosting of the delegates conference.

“It is not a matter of who is right or wrong. I want to appeal to every member of the party to use their moral conscience. We owe so much to our membership. We should learn from the lessons of pass mistakes,” he urged.

But the SLPP chairman urged that the party do everything within their power to prevent Mr. Benjamin from going to court.

“If he goes to court and an injunction is granted, it will be a big setback for us,” he said.

Meanwhile, the decision to conduct elections for national officers and standard bearer separately may have put paid to litigation by an aggrieved member of the opposition party, thus sparing the blushes of thousands of supporters who had feared the worst.

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