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Former President’s political credential beyond Sierra Leone!

Former President’s political credential beyond Sierra Leone!

Though being hassled and harassed by the current regime and accused by many within his party, the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) party, the former President, HE Dr Ernest Bai Koroma remains as constant as the northern star. He looks stable and maintains his usual trade mark smile, even in the midst of a political storm.

Perhaps his display of resilience is scientific, given his experience in the political arena, which started if I am not mistaken in the 70s as a young graduate from Fourah College, where he studied Economics and subsequently taught at St Francis Secondary School in Makeni, his native home. This was during the days of the late President Siaka Probyn Stevens; then EBK, as he is fondly called, had already tasted the steam and smoke of the political chess game, which he has always accepted as “politics”. His family house was stormed because he contested for a Parliamentary seat in Makeni town as a popular young politician. He was prevailed upon to step down given his youthful age. His close friends admire his composure and calmness in troubled waters.

Today, he is the most troubled political figure head in the country, yet he has remained calm and calculated banking on the dispensation of justice and due process.

At party level, he is facing court charges as de facto leader and chairman, while other blame him for the current predicament of party members and former government officials who served under his leadership. In fact, some describe him as a despot, who exercised sweeping powers that culminated in the choice of an unknown and unprepared presidential candidate that resulted in the defeat of his party in 2018 presidential polls. A wave of bitterness, anger and grief swept through the rank and file of the party against the former president.

On the other hand, a majority of Sierra Leoneans across the political spectrum, hail the former president for what they describe as “tangibles” in terms of the volume of infrastructural development that took place during his ten years tenure of office as re-elected President of the country. They believe that the former Head of State, more than all his predecessors, was able to maintain relative peace, regional balance and economic growth (which was reversed by the outbreak of Ebola), in the body polity of the country.

It is indeed a sacred fact that when he assumed power in 2005, the then President, rather than rattling Government Ministers of the Kabbah-led government and stifling the opposition, he called on them to stay in office for a number of months before he could put his cabinet together; a strategy that allowed them to soft-land rather than crash-landing.

Cognizant with his democratic and governance style, EBK, despite domestic tensions around his personality, remains a force to reckon with in the African political arena, as Chief Elections Observer for the African Union; continuing to fly the flag of our beloved Sierra Leone across the globe.

This brings me to the crux of this piece, which speaks to the former President’s delicate position of maintaining or failing to maintain his current international profile as a democrat in the affairs of his party.

It will be foolhardy for anybody in and outside the APC to think that the Chairman and Leader will meddle with the current wave of democratic reforms blowing through the party. He has said it times without number that he would not be blamed by anybody this time around; once the draft constitution is adopted next month, due electoral process will be observed for the election of national officers, particularly the presidential candidate for 2023.

The former President and AU Chief Elections Observer cannot afford to risk his international accolade as a democrat at the global platform to fall into parochialism in the affairs of his party. Besides, he is manifestly committed to a fair and level playing ground in the party that made him a head of state and earned him international recognition and credentials.

By Abdul Kuyateh

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