By Alfred Koroma
Leaders of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), President Julius Maada Bio and the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party leader, Hon. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella have on Sunday 23rd April signed an agreement to work as an alliance and have President Bio as presidential candidate for both parties in the June 24 elections.
Both Parties will maintain their individual identities but work collaboratively as an Alliance of Political Parties, with President Julius Maada Bio being their the sole Presidential Candidate for the Alliance. If he wins, the President will form an inclusive government wherein the NGC will be allocated a number of positions in various categories of appointments in governance.
The agreement also allows for both Parties to fill candidates for Parliamentary and Local Council elections and cooperate to ensure that they are represented in Parliament and Local councils. They will also cooperate to develop a manifesto for the General elections and establish a Campaign Co-ordination Committee for the Presidential election campaign.
As an Alliance, we will strive to create space for open and respectful discussions where all voices are heard and diverse perspectives are considered. We will work towards building bridges, mending relationships, and healing the wounds of the past, President Bio told the crowds of supports in Bintumani on Sunday, calling on Sierra Leoneans to join their noble endeavor.
Our vision is unified, and our ideas are cross-fertilized. We are united in our love for Sierra Leone. Our Alliance will accelerate the development efforts that my administration has been undertaking, the President said.
He acknowledged Dr. Yumkella, Leader and Founder of NGC as an effective parliamentarian and a great partner in development efforts. Even where we differed, we remained committed to our country, the President added.
He called on members of the SLPP to embrace their NGC brothers and sisters without fear, suspicion and hesitation, and build more alliances as the credible pathway for sustainable progress.
Hon Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella who has signed an alliance with President Bio was a member of the ruling SLPP, but resigned from the Party in 2017 along with a number of the Party’s members and supporters to form the National Grand Coalition (NGC) party. His decision came after a tensed political conflicts and tensions between his camp and the then Julius Maada Bio’s Paopa Camp within the ruling Party which was then in opposition.
Hon Yumkella contested the 2018 elections as presidential and parliamentary candidate under his NGC party. He did not win the presidential election but gained four Parliamentary Seats, one District Chairman, and took control of Kambia District Council. His party attained 6% of the total votes cast nationwide in the first round of the election.
Delivering a statement at the launching of the SLPP-NGC Alliance on Sunday, Hon. Yumkella said they agree to form an alliance is to promote a sense of national pride and identity that transcends political differences.
“Signing the agreements by the son of a paramount Chief from the North and the son of a paramount chief from the south, should not be disregarded. It represents our dedication to breach regional division and fostering national unity,” the NGC Leader said, thanking President Bio for his vision, commitment, patient and determination.
“As leaders, we recognized that it is our duty to work for the betterment of our country, regardless of our political affiliations. We acknowledge that progress and development cannot be achieved individually but only through collaborative efforts and partnerships,” he said. “Our vision for Sierra Leone is built on the fundamental pillar of national cohesion. We recognized and embrace the diversity of our nation with its unique culture, traditions and beliefs. We firmly believe that our diversity should serve as a source of strength not division.”