Monday, August 19, 2013

Sierra Leone Peoples Party's Ambassador Allie Bangura Exhibits Great Class.

Ambassador Allie Bangura
Over the weekend in Bo town, the famous southern provincial capital of the diamond rich West African country of Sierra Leone, delegates and party enthusiasts of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party gathered to elect new party executives, with the main contest for the party chairmanship being between two veteran party champions; ex-Paramount Chief of Mambolo Somano Kapen, who was the incumbent party Vice Chairman and Ambassador Allie Bangura a former diplomat and a leader in the struggle to reverse the brief period of military insurrection by members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council in the late 90s, that had resulted in the overthrow of the SLPP led government of Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

Unfortunately, instead of having the election for party Chairman be the last contest or all elections be conducted simultaneously, the organizers and candidates had agreed that the election for the party chair precede all else. This decision proved to be a gross miscalculation, as many delegates immediately flooded out of the hall as soon as the results of the highly polarized contest between the ex-ambassador and ex-chief was announced in favor of the chief. Out of the 597 votes cast Chief Kapen garnered 310 votes to Ambassador Allies 287 votes, a margin of just 23 votes.
Chief Somano Kapen

The resulting pandemonium led to the withdrawal of most of the other candidates aligned with the ambassador, leaving candidates aligned with the chief to go unopposed.

Defeated candidates in intra-party election in Sierra Leone have the unfortunate but usual tendency of either withdrawing from politics altogether or defecting to other oppositions parties, a fact that is particularly true of the SLPP and has been a major source of electoral misfortune in the party's history.

In national elections in 1967, the decision of SLPP candidates like K.I. Kaisamba and Brewah to run as Independents effectively handed the country to the opposition All People Congress (APC) led by Siaka Probyn Stevens, which culminated in 23 years of single party misrule that reduced the country to being branded as the poorest country in the world, in site of its mineral wealth.
Always Defecting Margai

History repeated itself again in 2007 when another SLPP defector Charles Francis Margai, man who frequently defects, launched his own party the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and combined forces with the then opposition APC to kick SLPP out of power, a decision that would later come to haunt Charles Margai, who is now the butt of jokes, scorn and derision in APC circles and was recently locked up in the country's capital, for statements which the country's police described as reckless.

Amb. Bangura Talking to the Press
Many political pundits were wondering who will be the first to defect after the raucous election in Bo following the weekend, with many predicting that Ambassador Bangura may follow the lead of another failed party chairman aspirant, Ambassador Saccoh, into the always open arms of the APC, a party remarkable for its tenacity to cling to power by all means necessary.

However, in a surprise move, Ambassador Allie Bangura this morning released a press statement in which he affirmed his loyalty to the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. He stated that he was reflecting upon and analyzing the announcement of his loss in the bid to become party chairman and will soon make a statement on a future course of action. He however, advised his numerous supporters to be cautious, law abiding  and at peace with other party members. He emphasized that he remained conscious of his responsibilities "as a Party member to ensure that SLPP remains a strong, cohesive and vibrant political party and shall work towards realizing that responsibility." He ended his statement by thanking his supporters and thanking them for their cooperation.
Chief Karpen

This statement by Ambassador Bangura, puts him a class above other party members in the past who had left the party after losses lamenting about tribalism, corruption and what have you. A former Sierra Leone ambassador to the USA John Ernest Leigh went into such a temper tantrum at the first loss of his presidential flagbearer bid to Solomon Berewa, that he was smuggled from the convention center in seething rage. In the following flagbearer contest Ambassador Leigh's electoral fortunes did not improve by any means and he went into such a rage that he totally went bonkers, accusing the SLPP of tribalism, cannibalism, ritualism, jujuism, and many other unprintable isms that are not suitable for this blog.
Sour Loser Amb. Leigh

So for Ambassador Bangura to release such a statement two days after an election in which he had received the support of important party leaders like President Kabbah and Vice President Berewa, show shim to be a politician of class and dignity, a rare breed in the politics of Sierra Leone. Many people are saying that the ambassador may have a bright future in the politics of Sierra Leone, but only time will tell.

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