By Sorie Fofana………………………
The Chairman and Leader of the main opposition SLPP, Chief Somano Kapen has described his suspension by the Party’s NEC (National Executive Council) as illegal.
In a newspaper interview yesterday, the embattled Party Chairman and Leader likened his ouster to a palace coup in the Party.
Chief Kapen came to the post of Chairman/Leader through the endorsement and support of Brig. (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio. As far as Bio was concerned, Chief Kapen was the lesser of two evils.
Chief Kapen’s main challenger, Ambassador Alie Bangura had the backing of Mr. John Benjamin, the Party’s outgoing Chairman and Leader at the time. And Mr. Benjamin sees Bio as his greatest enemy.
It was during Chief Kapen’s Chairmanship of the SLPP that Ambassador Alie Bangura was expelled from the Party. Many people see Chief Kapen as a ruthless Politician who does not forget slights.
Because Chief Kapen is Temne, he was used by the Party’s top hierarchy to expel another Temne from the SLPP. Nobody accused Chief Kapen of promoting ethnic cleansing in the Party because he is also a Temne and a prominent Northerner.
The Problem With Chief Kapen
Chief Kapen’s decision to back Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s bid for the flagbearship race may have led to his political downfall in the SLPP.
Chief Kapen’s decision to abdicate his responsibility in the party may have led to his political demise.
His attempt to use Supreme Executive Authority to singlehandedly overturn decisions taken by the party’s NEC may have led to his mighty fall as Party Chairman and Leader.
It is important to also point out that, Chief Kapen is a very independent minded and egoistic man. He will never allow anyone in the SLPP to remote control him. That must have angered his political Godfathers in the PaoPa Camp.
All the infighting in the SLPP boils down to the election of a flagbearer. Chief Kapen’s decision not to openly endorse the party’s most popular flagbearer contender, Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio may have cost him his job.
The Role Of Dr. Prince Harding
Dr. Prince Harding is the Party’s Deputy Chairman and Leader. He is a strong supporter of Brig. Bio’s bid to lead the SLPP.
And Dr. Prince Harding has never hidden his ambition to succeed Chief Somano Kapen as Party Chairman/Leader.
Unfortunately, Dr. Prince Harding was the man who presided over the NEC meeting that saw the suspension of Chief Kapen from the SLPP last week. And it is even reported that he engineered the suspension of Chief Kapen from the Party.
Chief Kapen has received the endorsement of the so-called Alliance of flagbearer contenders with the exception of Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio.
The Party’s Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, has also thrown her political weight behind Chief Kapen by insisting that, Chief Kapen is the only recognized and legitimate Party Chairman and Leader. Such an endorsement carries weight!
The decision by some aggrieved members of the Party to seek legal redress was predictable. After all, that is one of the most viable options open to them.
The Party’s NEC has slated February 27, 2017 as the date in which the flagbearer election will be held in Kenema.
The High Court will have to decide whether the flagbearer election will go ahead as scheduled by the Party’s NEC. If the elections do not go ahead, it will be a major setback for the Party.
The Way Forward
Chief Kapen may be a mediocre leader. He has been accused of failing to unite the party. But it is difficult to hold him entirely responsible for failing to unite a party that is so deeply divided.
The SLPP is not known for suspending prominent members. Since the days of Albert Margai, people just defect from the Party. They were hardly suspended or even expelled.
The SLPP is a big family. A beleaguered Party like the SLPP should not resort to suspending or expelling its prominent members. If anything, the party should endeavor to recruit new members and maintain existing ones.
The way forward for the Party is to summon an extraordinary NEC meeting to declare all suspensions and expulsions null and void.
All the suspensions and expulsions were done in order to get rid of certain party stalwarts who have openly disagreed with the way this great Party is being governed.
If the SLPP is really serious about bouncing back to power in 2018, they should come together and put up a united force that will kick the APC out of power in February 2018.
The SLPP does not stand a chance of defeating the APC in 2018 if they fail to unite behind a consensus Presidential candidate. Any further split in the party will be a disaster in 2018.
SLPP: Unite or Die!