19th November 2017

SLPP Conspiracy Theorists Accuse Kabbah & Ernest of Plans to Exile SLPP!!

 By Abdul M. Turay (07/07/17)

Conspiracy theorists believe late SLPP President Tejan Kabbah and President Ernest Koroma hatched plans to exile the SLPP forever. 

 

In this article below reproduced verbatim, you can judge for yourself the lies, truths and half truths about the story: Many stakeholders in the Sierra Leone politics today have personal agendas. (Pictured: Kabbah and Koroma). Very often, the pursuit of these personal interests comes not only in disguise but also at the detriment of the greater good of their political parties and the country. But deception in our body politic if not contained, is about to take the greatest toll on not only the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) but the entire country. This is because true opposition to the ruling government, as we have come to know is once again in danger of becoming extinct. As if history has not thought us enough lessons, it’s now becoming evident that collusion among key players could be the final plan to send SLPP into another exile for the next century.

The All Peoples Congress (APC) agenda to remain in power at all cost beyond 2017 is no longer a secret. But with the abject failure of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s administration to deliver on their campaign trail promises to improve the livelihood of the ordinary citizen, the APC’s plan appears far-fetched if the SLPP can present a better alternative from a position of strength and unity. This failure is compounded by APC’s continuous attempt to marginalize those perceived as pro-SLPP as manifested by the dismissal of police, military and civil service personnel, the vast majority of whom hail from the southeast of the country. But with the help of some internal SLPP operatives, APC is not about to let the SLPP have an easy sail to power. 

As if all other tactics deployed by the APC including paying off some quarters of the local media, infiltrating and politicizing the state security apparatus and the judiciary are not enough to cripple the opposition and secure a third term, the ruling party plans to ensure the opposition, particularly the SLPP is destroyed from within so as to become a handicap political outfit with no real purpose.

To understand this grand plan, one has to carefully analyze the chronology of events and the roles of some of the key players going as far back as the regime of former president, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. This brings me the subject of Tejan Kabbah. Claims remain that former President Kabbah was not the true winner of the 1996 flag bearer elections that brought him the helm of the SLPP. 

As a relatively new comer to the party at the time with no real grass-root involvement in the revival of the SLPP, President Kabbah’s commitment to the SLPP was questionable then and still remains questionable today. This was evident in many forms including President Kabbah’s pronouncements that he was not a president for SLPP but instead for all Sierra Leoneans, a statement viewed by many as intended to ridicule his party members. President Kabbah was also known to criticize his own ministers often referring to them as corrupt and an incompetent bunch. To a certain extent, this gave the international community a reason to call for a regime change after President Kabbah’s two terms. 

Unlike President Koroma who appears to want to see SLPP dead and gone, President Kabbah, under the disguise of multi-party democracy became instrumental in the reviving of the APC. In fact, it’s widely believed that it was president Kabbah that brought APC leaders together to settle their differences under the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma. It is also widely rumoured that President Kabbah made a deal with President Koroma to turn over the presidency to the latter at the end of the former’s term. This claim seems to bear some degree of truth as President Kabbah appeared to have done all he could to force former Vice President Solomon Berewa on the SLPP, a candidate seen by many as the weakest among the SLPP presidential aspirants at the time.

To execute the regime change plan, President Kabbah worked with the opposition APC and the international community to appoint Dr. Christiana Thorpe, a born Limba/Loko from the north with questionable connection to the APC to do the dirty work for them. To declare APC the winner as intended during the 2007 general elections, Dr. Thorpe had to cancel hundreds of thousands of ballots from the SLPP strongholds. And to prevent the SLPP from going forward with the planned legal injunction petition prior to the announcement of the questionable 2007 results, President Kabbah kept Vice President Berewa in the dark hours leading to the announcement of the results while plans were underway for a formal handover of power to the APC. It was rumoured that on the eve of the announcement, President Kabbah assured Vice President Berewa that the latter had won the elections and that there were no cause for concern. This assurance coupled with Vice President Berewa’s own unfounded personal confidence and ego resulted in the greatest surprise of his lifetime.

Without any real motive, anyone would perhaps be skeptical about these claims.  I would be too. However, President Kabbah is believed to have never been comfortable with several of his party leaders, particularly key members from the southeast including Berewa, Charles Margai, Hinga Norman and a few others. Because of fear that Chief Hinga Norman would one day disclose the role that President Kabbah played as Defense Minister in funding and promoting the Civil Defense Force, a group alleged to have committed human right violations, Norman was betrayed and left to languish and die behind bars while Kabbah had presidential immunity. 

Margai on the other hand was never silent about his dissatisfaction with President Kabbah. And Berewa was never trusted to protect President Kabbah in retirement. As a result, the safest option for President Kabbah was to make a deal with the APC leader President Koroma who was desperate to bring the APC back to power. And make no mistake; President Koroma is equally concerned about his protection and wellbeing after his final term.

Many believe that the deal between Presidents Kabbah and Koroma did not end upon the transfer of power in 2007. It is believed that as part of the deal, President Koroma was to return power to President Kabbah via the latter’s proxy candidate.  In return, President Koroma was to have in place a friendly opposition while he serves his two terms. This is where the subjects of John Benjamin and Usman Boie Kamara come into play. 

To maintain control over the SLPP after President Kabbah’s betrayal of the party in 2007, the former president knew he had to have a plan “B” in place. It was therefore not a surprise when President Kabbah suddenly appointed John Benjamin as finance minister late into his second term. This was intended to position Benjamin strategically and with access to the country’s finances in order to prepare to take over the helm of the SLPP. With enough money to buy delegates and the support of other key SLPP leaders who may or may not have known about the grand plan, Benjamin won overwhelmingly.

But Benjamin knows full well that he is not President Kabbah’s choice to succeed President Koroma. During his first term as chairman, Benjamin attempted to abandon the grand plan to seek his own presidential ambition. This was met by a popular resistance across the party including Usman Boie and Isata Jabbie Kabbah, both of whom are key supporters of the grand plan and the latter been the wife of President Kabbah. This fall out left Benjamin disgruntled and was for a long time not trusted to be working in the interest of the grand plan.

It is widely believed that Usman Boie, President Kabbah’s nephew was bestowed by both Presidents Kabbah and Koroma as the rightful successor to President Koroma after the latter’s two terms. Boie was therefore sent out to pay his due in 2012. Boie had no intension in becoming president in 2012. His candidacy was nothing but a ploy to hand over the second term to Koroma on a platter. With enough money accumulated while serving under the SLPP government in the mining ministry, Boie lavishly paid his way to what appeared as a front runner position on the campaign trail during the SLPP 2010 flag bearer election. On the campaign trail, Benjamin basically played all sides.  While he did not favour Maada Bio, he did not really care about Boie either and was never fully trusted by the Boie camp. He instead concentrated on making sure he is re-elected while he kept all others guessing. That brings me to the subject of Bio.

Bio, the quiet and unassuming character has somehow managed to become a bone of contention in the eyes of the key players on the political stage. His popularity with ordinary citizens across the country has not gone down well with the powers that be, especially the kingmakers. Both Presidents Kabbah and Koroma see Bio as the biggest single threat to the grand plan. To understand this dichotomy, one has to go back to 1992. Bio’s role in removing the undemocratic, corrupt, and dictatorial one-party APC regime under President Joseph Momoh, although popularity acclaimed world-wide is a “crime” for which President Koroma, an APC protégé at the time would never forgive Bio. Some quarters in the APC are believed to frequently brag that they would rather drag Sierra Leone back to war than hand over power to Bio. 

President Kabbah on the other hand is believed to have promised in 1996 to support Bio in any future bid to the presidency as an appreciation for the latter’s facilitation of the first multi-party elections in Sierra Leone that saw President Kabbah and the SLPP back to power for the first time in over three decades. But Kabbah did not only fail to deliver good on his alleged promise to Bio but is also on record for criticizing the regime that facilitated an election that brought him to power. 

Many wonder why President Kabbah had not used the same opportunity to criticize the one-party dictatorship under President Momoh. Others believe that Benjamin’s real discontent with Bio dates back to 1996. It is believed that Bio had refused to facilitate rigging the 1996 election in favour of Benjamin’s party, the National Unity Party (NUP). One can therefore understand why Bio is such a threat to the kingmakers.

The kingmakers have recently responded to this threat with iron fist. State police have been at the forefront with instruction from the kingmakers to intimidate Bio. Over the past few days alone, group of armed police officers have searched Bio’s office on two occasions and his home on the last occasion. According to the police, the first search was in response to a warrant of arrest for one of Bio’s body guards who had been accused by Isata Jabbie Kabbah. However, eye witnesses present during the search reported that the police also stated during the search that they were looking for arms. But on the second search which commenced after the arrest the Bio’s body guard who the police alleged to have been looking for during the first search, the police indicated they had a warrant to search Bio’s home and office for arms. At the end of both searches, no arms were found. The only explanation for these perpetual searches is to intimidate Bio and his supporters ahead of the SLPP convention slated for Friday, August 17, 2013, in Bo. Rumours have been widely circulated that the kingmakers have plans in place to plant weapons on Bio’s premise so as to have a basis to come up with trump up treason charges against Bio and some of his key supporters.

The final blow to Boie and the kingmakers came on the eve of the 2010 flag bearer election when reports went out that Bio and Benjamin have had a secret reconciliation meeting immediately after Benjamin’s victory and right before the flag bearer election. This was not only seen as a betrayal by Benjamin but remains to be viewed by the Boie camp and supporters of the grand plan as the contributing factor to Bio’s triumph over Boie. 

Having lost to Bio, a candidate whose popularity is unmatched in Sierra Leone today, Boie decided to return home to APC. It therefore comes as no surprise that Boie is more unhappy with Benjamin than anyone one else in SLPP including Bio. But there is also a subtle message in the departure of the bestowed “presidential next-of-kin”--- that by the dictates of the kingmakers, SLPP as a party has supposedly lost its chance of succeeding the APC in the near future. Regime change appears to no longer be part of the grand plan, unless somehow a new saviour can survive the popularity of Bio and clinch the SLPP flag bearer title in 2017.

With Boie’s defeat and departure, the grand plan was faced with a huge challenge. The second term was no longer guaranteed with the advent of Bio on the scene. Bio, a likeable personality and seen by many, particularly by those in the southeast as the redeemer that is here to save the country from the corrupt and northern dominated APC government, quickly created a brand for himself across the country. It was clear that second term was no longer guaranteed and that the grand plan was in jeopardy. With Boie gone and his personal presidential ambition via SLPP apparently squandered, coupled with the fact that he was not trusted by the Bio camp, Benjamin knew he had to go back to the grand plan. 

To do so, he had to convince his kingmakers that he will stop Bio from within. And all Benjamin had to do is become a dormant chairman during crucial times while depriving the party of financing. And dormant he did become while every critical internal plan that he became aware of somehow made it to the Awareness Times news outlet via the APC mouth piece, Sylvia Blyden. With the power of the chairman and leader of SLPP, Benjamin did not have any plans in place to campaign and protect the SLPP votes. To handicap the party and campaign team even further, he lavishly and recklessly spent significant amount of funds raised by the party while failing to account for the rest.

With no strategy put in place by the leader and chairman, the financially starved SLPP 2012 campaign had an uphill battle to fight against the incumbent party with not only a “blank check” but also state apparatus at their disposal and well equipped to rig the elections. Indeed, the elections were rigged by the APC leaving very little trace in their wake. With Boie now on the other side and pleasantly rewarded for playing by the rule, the SLPP is doomed in the eyes of the kingmakers. The search for another lieutenant to infiltrate the SLPP camp is underway. This is where Dr. Kandeh Yumkella comes into play.

But Yumkella seems to have already had a false start. Making explicit he is not a member of neither parties nor has he ever voted in Sierra Leone elections, makes him not only the most amateur politician of the decade but also less appealing to even the most die-hard of his fans. Yumkella could not even hide his allegiance to the grand plan as he wasted no time in paying homage publicly to the kingmakers, Presidents Kabbah and Koroma. 

Perhaps Yumkella does not believe he needs any political party to become president as long as he has the blessing of the kingmakers. No surprises here as Koroma is on record toying with the idea many sees as an eye on Yumkella as his possible successor. You just have to listen to President Koroma’s remarks at the commissioning ceremony of the Bankasoka Hydropower Dam in Port Loko where he stated that: “Some of we go want mek e be Ban Ki-moon or for mek e be other tin, but we nor know yate,” in reference to Yumkella. That “other tin” might as well be the presidency of Sierra Leone.

But with Boie gone to APC, Benjamin exiting the helm of the SLPP, and a brewing power struggle within the APC to succeed President Koroma expected to become ugly with the former vice president, Samuel Sam-Sumana the least favourite of the potential candidates, the kingmakers once again have all options on the table. The part of the plan that includes avoiding the power struggle within the APC and keeping President Koroma for the third term via the already begun constitutional review will not only be vehemently opposed by the SLPP and other opposition parties but also by those APC leaders who see 2017 as their chance to take a shot at the APC flag bearer title. So, while the chess keeps moving within the APC, the kingmakers have settled for a plan to take another shot at the SLPP route. This is where Ambassador Alie Bangura comes into play.

Having earned mixed results from running the SLPP 2012 election management office that oversaw what many view as the worst election rigging in the country, Bangura seems to be the perfect conduit, at least in the eyes of the kingmakers. This is consistent with reports that President Koroma had already given his approval and blessing to Bangura in a secret ceremony facilitated by Benjamin. Now whether Bangura himself does not have a hidden presidential ambition remains to be seen. The hope of the grand plan is for Bangura to succeed Benjamin with the expectation that the former will play by the rule and follow the instructions of the kingmakers. 

Somewhere down the line, the kingmakers hope to prepare Yumkella with the hope that he will make an inroad into the SLPP with the support of Bangura. Proponents of this plan are already on board Bangura’s campaign wagon. In fact, the campaign message in many quarters of the Bangura campaign has been so obvious that you would think that this is a joint flag bearer and chairmanship campaign to elect both Yumkella and Bangura. The danger is that such message will not only alienate Bio supporters but will give the wrong impression that Bangura is on the Yumkella wagon, something that may hinder any presidential ambition left in him. Bangura knows this full well.

On the campaign trail, Bangura has been able to secure the trust of some SLPP quarters as one who can unify the SLPP. However, with the controversial Benjamin’s implicit endorsement and the display of anti-Bio messages by key members of his campaign team, many Bio supporters have become uncomfortable with Bangura. His challenger, Chief Somana Kapen, a grassroots politician who has won an SLPP election in the past and boasts of the support of Bio is seen as undefeatable. All gloves are on and a decision as to who will make it to the helm of the SLPP is due in a couple of days.

But the true challenge for the grand plan seems to have just begun. There is a high likelihood that President Koroma has no plan to deliver good on his promise to President Kabbah. Unlike President Kabbah, President Koroma has a lot to lose if he decides to betray the APC by willingly orchestrating plans to hand over power to the SLPP, regardless of who becomes the SLPP flag bearer. So, after all the grand plan may as well have a counter-plan geared towards paving the road to State House for the third time. 

President Kabbah and the other internal SLPP players do not seem to know about this counter-plan. President Koroma, a Siaka Steven protégé is no amateur to the game of politics. And unlike President Kabbah with questionable loyalty to the SLPP, President Koroma was born, raised, trained and lives and breathes APC.

With the Constitutional review begun, the counter-plan is becoming more evident. The APC know full well that a third term option for President Koroma via a constitutional manipulation seems not only impossible but extremely unpopular in modern politics. So, the real plan is to weaken the SLPP by limiting its choice of candidates. And preventing Bio from running via a Constitutional clause that prevents anyone associated with coup d’état will do just that. This seems to be the real motive behind the Constitutional review. The assumption is that those SLPP members opposed to Bio will fall for the bait and support the clause in a referendum. 

This is where it gets real dirty because such clause will leave Yumkella and a whole host of others also at the mercy of the APC Constitutional review court that has already been populated by their choice of judges.  While the grand plan sees Yumkella as a possible next-of-kin, President Koroma’s counter-plan sees him as nothing more than a conduit for their counter-plan. So, with Bio and Yumkella at APC’s disposal, the march to State House with a new APC candidate will be a sail come 2018, at least in the view of the masterminds.

Courtesy: By: Abdul Minkailu Turay, Cape Town, South Africa

TRIBUTE: ALPHA SHAW


1958 -1980

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