• September 29, 2023


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The recent developments in Sierra Leone regarding the dispute over the announced electoral results have overshadowed a potential leadership battle that is brewing in the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).

Members of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) have accused president Bio of creating a rift in the nation’s body politic, adding that he is leaving the SLPP severely polarised and desperately weak at the centre. The expected vacuum in leadership is expected to gain further momentum as the party heads into various leadership elections to determine the next corps of leaders.

The fight is expected to pit the old guard loyalists of the president’s first term cabinet against the new breed of young leaders that the president has named to various leadership positions that many a stalwart would have desired.

The party should not expect for people like Dr David Sengeh as Chief Minister to just step aside after the Bio era. If this regime does five years as they are hoping, then we should expect for the likes of Sengeh, Bah, Wurie, Timothy Kabba, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Tarawallie, Brima Swarray, among others to also do what they had never considered before, vying for the party and country’s leadership, said an SLPP insider.

It is believed that members of the president’s first term cabinet are bent on giving the youngsters a run for their money as they get acclimatised with internal party politics.

We expect for this honeymoon phase in them coming to the fore of party politics to soon be replaced with the reality on the ground: that is, politics is a dirty game and mostly requires all guns on deck to shoot or cut down the opposition, or adversary within the party. Should the young leaders in the party knuckle down and do the needful they are expected to be easy walks in the park as their popularity is big among the party’s grassroots who are mostly youthful people as well, the SLPP analysts told this medium.

It is generally agreed that president Bio made a break from most of his first term appointments after many of his old buddies were accused of doing things against the president’s campaign promises. President Bio’s popularity took a huge dent after many of his appointed public servants were reportedly complicit in many corrupt practises as clarified by the Auditor General’s reports into the New Direction regime. This exercise got so embarrassing for the executive that he was forced to order that the auditors don’t include audits of his, his wife’s and vice president’s offices in the final reports. This obvious admittance of failure in the fight against corruption that was one of president Bio’s first term flagship campaign promises caused many a tongues wagging as those with the most responsibility for such graft belonged to the president’s blue eye boy class of untouchables, regardless of how well or poorly they performed. Many such party sacred cows were left untouched during the shuffling of cabinet that took place under president Bio.

After president Bio we expect for the tribalists to raise their heads, which will leave no room for Dr Juldeh Jalloh. In the history of vice presidents in Sierra Leone not one of them has taken over from the president in the leadership of the state and party. Remember what happened between Sam Sumana and Dr Ernest Bai Koroma? How about between Siaka Stevens and his long time vice president during his long and useless one party state, S.I. Koroma?

This is what we expect to happen to Dr Juldeh. You see his role was compromised from the beginning when Bio created the office of the Chief Minister which is like a duplication of the role of the VP. Although Juldeh Jalloh as a seasoned diplomat is more experienced than the whole lot of SLPP folks, we expect for him as a member of the Fullah tribe that his time as party leader has not yet reached Uhuru. Mr Jalloh worked for the UN system as an administrator with vast experience as head of the West African sub region. We also know that he is loaded and has been the secret funder of a lot of the party’s activities. With Bio set to exit the stage, the leadership fight in the SLPP will be between old and new breed of leaders.

As it seems, for a party that can boast the likes of president Bio, Dr Sengeh of IT education fame, Alpha Kanu, KKY, Dr Prince Harding, and yes even Dr Juldeh Jalloh, there should be no shortage of capable leaders in their midst.

Now that Dr Sengeh seems to be the president’s go-to guy and the party’s poster boy, the tribalists in the party are secretly throwing their lot behind him regardless of his inexperience in matters of politics. Sengeh has gotten so big that he seems to have replaced Fatima Bio on Tik Tok and social media, where he is reportedly the party’s new social media darling.

While lady Bio has been distracted by domestic issues bordering on infidelity and an outside child, her role as the party’s social media darling has been taken to another level by the tech savvy Moinina Sengeh.

It goes without saying that the president does not have trust issues with Sengeh, which issue affected his relationship with the New Direction people of the first cabinet of the Fifth Parliament. Both the SLPP and APC share many traditions key among them that they will only focus their leadership corps from their political heartlands: the SLPP does not look further than the southeast of the country while the APC deals with the northwest. Sengeh is from the south, which like the east, is considered relatives of the people from the southeast.

Partisans of the two leading political parties have agreed that revenge forms a critical part of the SLPP and APC leadership makeup, so much so that we still have to deal with the need or impulse to revenge. Since our erstwhile leaders returned from the Lancaster House agreement, there has been lack of trust among members of political parties; the main reason being that no political party has seen a vice president taking over from the president on his last and final term.

This looming leadership fiasco in the SLPP is sure to have its APC counterpart, which will form the meat of the next instalment of who will emerge from the SLPP and APC, after Maada Bio and Samura Kamara would have exited the stage.

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