The prolonged belief by Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) operatives that their party is the government -in-waiting in Sierra Leone has on Friday 7th April, 2017 faced another big blow when the Sierra Leone Appeals Court granted an interim interlocutory injunction restraining the National Executive Council of the SLPP from organizing any meeting, including the much-anticipated April 22-25th SLPP All-delegates Convention where Maada Bio would have been anointed as the flagbearer for the Presidential Elections on March 7, 2018.
1. Party supporter Victor Sheriff and various others supporting Bio’s rival, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, and represented by Yumkellaist lawyer Suliman Banja Tejan -Sie, took the case to the Appeals Court asking for the interlocutory injunction as a result of an earlier case where the Sierra Leone High Court dismissed a request by plaintiffs to declare null and void the results of the election of the 39 constituencies which had gone in favor of Mr. Bio.
Writing in the media few weeks ago on the question of the 39 constituencies, Dr. Yumkella argued that: “The SLPP constitution is clear about who has the mandate to conduct lower level elections at ward, section, chiefdom and zonal levels. Clause (5)/2 states that forward, sections and zonal levels ‘Elections shall be conducted under the supervision of the district chairman or his representative chosen from among the district executive’. This is why the cabal doctored the rules and regulations to vest power in the hands of himself and the Regional Chairs. “
According to the POPULAR EXPRESSION news outlet, Lawyer representing the Bio faction, Mr. Napoleon Koroma argued on behalf of the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth respondents that the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction to grant a stay of SLPP meetings because it raised constitutional issues. The Appeals Court apparently did not think so.
The news outlet reported that the injunction will not come into effect until the order is served to the other parties which can only happen earliest Monday 10th April, 2017. “The court also ruled that both appellants and respondents were to make written submissions. Costs against those appealing will be leveled if it turned out that the reasons for the injunction prayed leader of the SLPP, Chief Bai Sheborah Somano Kapen II said the injunction is to restrain the party executive from staging the April convention but not from holding other key party functions. He added that the National Executive for were not worth their salt, Justices Alusine Sesay, Reginald Fynn and Halloway stated.”
On a telephone interview with Awareness Times Newspaper, the Chairman and Body of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party summoned a meeting on Saturday 8th April, 2017 to update its membership on the registration process and also to explain to them about the Appeal Court’s injunction and called on all to remain calm.
This is another major setback for the opposition that has been in disarray since the 2012 results returned the APC to power. The battle to overturn the internal SLPP election results for 39 constituencies is a major goal of Dr Kandeh Yumkella who is among those seeking the party’s flagbearership to contest the March 2018 presidential elections. He has argued that those elections were not conducted fairly and they favored Maada Bio. So far they have not convinced the courts about their argument which could end up in the Supreme Court for constitutional interpretation.
In February this year, internal peace meetings were arranged and succeeded in bringing all sides in the party’s divide together in a peace march to the city centre. The Evergreen Committee, formed by non-aligned members (that is, those who say they supported neither Dr. Kandeh Yumkella nor retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio) recommended to the NEC to adopt the High Court ruling that came on February for the recognition of the results as a way, they said, to consolidate peace. This was rejected by Dr. Yumkella Mr. Banja Tejan-Sie has said the injunction was necessary to avoid SLPP members leaving the party en-masse.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.