Sierra Leone’s Changing Political Landscape
The All People’s Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone People’s (SLPP) Party, our major political parties in Sierra Leone ought to know that the political landscape of our beloved country is changing fast, and the old techniques of hiring thugs to disrupt voting and rigging elections are becoming gradually unpopular. Also, the illusion of both SLPP and APC political leaders that categorized the country into South-west for SLPP and North-west for APC is equally becoming a thing of the past. The youths that form a large chunk of our voting block are no more interested in this gimmick. But granted this erroneous belief holds true, it would still not provide enough votes for either party to win. (Photo: Steven Samuels, author)
The advent of political renaissance in Sierra Leone that saw the South-west vote for Ernest Bai Koroma (Northerner) against Solomon Berewa (Southerner) in 2007 elections was enough to tell political old-scholars like Pa. Banya that the scaring tactic of “regional divide” is no more helpful. The electorates now hold every political party and individual under a clear magnifying glass to determine who to vote for.
We in the Diaspora are also becoming frustrated of Sierra Leone politicians who come to the United States with just one message “My country, Sierra Leone is a hell hole and my President is a monster” all in the name of opposition. Shouldn’t we learn from Ghanaians, who use every international stage to tell the world that they are a peace loving country, and that they have a responsible government even when the NDC and NPP politicians are at each other’s throat?
The SLPP recent laundry list to the UN Secretary General, blaming President Ernest Bai Koroma’s less than three years old government for Sierra Leone’s woes that the SLPP itself could not fix in eleven years was an insult to the people of our country. It is high time that our political leaders who found themselves in the opposition whether as an individual or as party become part of the solution and not the problem.
Both the APC and the SLPP now find themselves in a quagmire. The old tricks of handling out SASMAN (hard gin) to our youths and using chiefdom elders to forcefully influence their subjects to vote are also losing momentum. The question now is what next as 2012 elections approach? Here are my suggestions to the two parties;
All People Congress (APC) – To preserve the rim over SLPP, President Koroma should maintain the momentum especially on energy, roads, agriculture, health, education, good governance and the fight against corruption. It seems that the APC under the leadership of President Koroma has metamorphosed itself into a trusted political party, distancing itself from what critics have called the dark epoch in Sierra Leone’s history. Most Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora are also appreciative of the administration’s effort to use every visit as a platform to inform them of the achievements being made at home. But remember, like the SLPP in 2007 elections, the forthcoming 2012 general elections are the APC’s to lose.
Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) – Instead of complaining about every civil servant that the APC replaces, the SLPP party needs to come up with a tangible agenda, and to distance itself from the eleven years of Ahmed Tejan Kabbah’s unproductive leadership. The party also needs a clear and an achievable manifesto for 2012 general elections, not Ahmed Tejan Kabbah or Solomon Berewa style manifesto that says “bridge to Lungi, food for all, and tar road to Kailahun etc.
Steven Samuels, Missouri, USA
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