Chief Somano Kapen Wins Sierra Leone Peoples Party Chairmanship.
|Chief Bai Sherbora Somano Kapen|
Chief Somano Kapen is the understated Deputy National Chairman of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party and a former Paramount Chief in the north of the country. In July 2011, Chief Kapen was elected Deputy Chairman of the Sierra Leone People's Party after defeating his challenger Hon. Eric Jumu by 413-184 votes. The position of Chairman then was won by John O. Benjamin who defeated Dr. Abass Bundu, a veteran politician and former Secretary General of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Benjamin had supported Kapen in 2011.
|Ambassador Allie Bangura|
In recent weeks the working relationship between Chief Somano Kapen and John Benjamin had deteriorated sharply. John Benjamin was rumored to have expressed preference for him to be succeeded by Ambassador Alie Bangura, another veteran SLPP member. Speaking a few days ago in the Eastern Capital Kenema, Chief Somana Kapen was very critical of the political antics of outgoing Chairman John O. Benjamin who has announced that he will be be contesting for party flagbearer for 2017.
Just a few weeks ago Ambassador Bangura seemed to be on an unstoppable roll to become the Party's Chairman, as he had received early endorsements, praise and support from prominent members of the SLPP such as former President Tejan Kabbah, Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa and other prominent individuals aligned with the anti-Bio faction of the SLPP and new vocal groups such as the Movement for the Transformation of the SLPP (MTS).
|Kabbah and Berewa endorse Bangura|
However, in a stunning blow to Ambassador Bangura's hopes, certain other prominent candidates for the chairmanship, such as Dr. Abbass Bundu and Dr. Prince Harding had withdrawn from the race in favor of Chief Kapen and thrown their weight and political muscle behind his candidacy, much to the chagrin of the Ambassador whose supporters dismissed the endorsements as inconsequential, as they believed Ambassador Bangura had enough delegates to counter any surge in support for Chief Somano Kapen.
In expressing support for Chief Somano Kapen, one of the withdrawn candidates Dr. Prince Harding, made historical comparisons between the chief and a prominent late party founder, another ex-Paramount Chief Bai Farama Tass III, both of whom were Temnes from the north and had both been paramount chiefs who had lost their thrones because of their affiliations with SLPP. Dr Harding stated that Chief Kapen was a senior figure who would be able to unite the disparate factions within the SLPP.
|Kapen Flanked by Supporters|
Chief Kapen a deep traditionalist and member of a prominent northern royal family is also an economist by training and has been a prominent figure in Sierra Leone for decades.
|Disapointed YG Leader|
Jaiah M. Koroma
Segbwema Blog correspondents in Bo and Kenema report that both cities erupted in loud jubilation when the news was announced on regional radio and the Kenema correspondent reports that youths have descended on the streets of the town chanting praises to the retired chief and the retired brigadier in the middle of the night, leaving the town covered by a haze of dust.
Ongoing reports from the convention hall indicate that some other candidates for other positions who had been anti-Kapen are withdrawing from their races, to avoid near certain defeat as the crowd assembled now has a general idea of how the cookie will crumble.
The social media is alight with praise for the Chief who has just demonstrated that at least in politics, opportunity comes more than once.