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Dr. Abass Bundu Writes Global Times Between Dr. Kandeh Yumkella and Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio

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Dr. Abass Bundu Writes Global Times Between Dr. Kandeh Yumkella and Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio

I have just read your commentary on the above-mentioned caption in the Global Times publication of 14 September instant. While I am in full agreement with you that unity in the SLPP is a necessity if it is to stand any chance of bouncing back to power successfully in 2018 against all the mighty odds and obstacles likely to be strewn in its path. I think it is equally important, however, that we appreciate the need for an exhaustive and censorious scrutiny of the membership status of every aspirant for flag bearer of our party. It may appear divisive on the surface in light of the numerous conflicting press releases from various quarters but the vitality and importance of such scrutiny cannot be overemphasized.
This point is especially underscored by the express provisions of Section 41 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 and the latest interpretation of it by the Supreme Court in the Samsumana case. The Court’s decision mainly turned upon the interpretation of paragraph (b) of that Section which enjoins all persons wishing to contest for the position of President or Vice-President of the Republic being a member of a registered political party in the country. Of course, the Court interpreted that provision as meaning that the person’s membership must be coterminous not only with his election to that office but also with his tenure in the office; in other words it is a continuing requirement throughout his tenure in that office. Whether one agrees or disagrees with this interpretation by the Court, at least one thing has been made very clear. Membership of a registered political party is an essential qualification for eligibility to contest as well as to remain in office as president or vice-president of the Republic.
What this means for all political parties is that they have to be doubly careful. They must scrutinize their candidates for those two high state offices so rigorously as to be quite certain that they are properly and validly registered as members of the party before putting them forward as candidates. Otherwise, the issue of their membership could be used as a valid ground for an election petition either before or after the presidential elections. In other words, it is now a new addition to the grounds prescribed in Section 55 of the 1991 Constitution which, according to the Court, inexhaustively spells out the conditions for declaring the position of vice-president vacant.
So, therefore, while we might feel somewhat exhausted by the incessant questioning of the membership of KKY in the SLPP, it is nevertheless of the utmost importance that this be done now rather than later, if only to avoid a future disappointment or calamity should he be nominated by the SLPP as its presidential candidate or be designated as its running mate in the 2018 presidential election. And, mind you, that election is highly likely to be conducted under the 1991 Constitution rather than any new Constitution that might be promulgated after completion of the current constitutional review.
This is why I personally find it exasperating when our revered National Chairman and Leader decided to take to the airwaves and say he is satisfied simpliciter with the pronouncements by his National Secretary-General that KKY is a member of the party without producing any valid documentary proof of such membership. I have the greatest respect for both gentlemen but their oral pronouncements are not enough to make anyone a member of the party and, therefore, in my humble opinion, the case of my illustrious brother, KKY’s membership, is not yet closed. And this is why I considered it my bounded duty primarily to the SLPP to join the other regional chairmen to make it abundantly clear that we support the findings of the factual investigation carried out by our colleague chairman of the southern region. The simple answer to all the numerous issues being raised about KKY’s membership is for him to walk through the doors of Unity House when he is next in Freetown and apply for a fresh registration. I, as the regional chairman of the north, will gladly accompany him to the National Treasurer’s office. Doing this will not only put paid to the unnecessary distraction this issue is engendering, it would make him unquestionably eligible to contest for any office in the party. There should be no quick-fixes nor any clever circumventions of the party’s constitution in this regard. What is more, the extant party constitution contains no bar to a new member contesting for the flagbearership. The SLPP, being an eminently democratic party, will decide the question of flag bearer ultimately and decisively through the votes of the majority of the delegates at the appropriate Party Convention; and the sooner this is convened the better it will be for restoring amity and unity to the party.
DR. Abass Bundu

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