Concord Times (Freetown)

25 October 2011

Sierra Leone: President Koroma's Plot to Woo Opposition Foils

At President Ernest Koroma's behest, a meeting reportedly took place last Thursday October 20th few minutes after 5pm at the State House between the President and leaders of opposition parties with representatives from the Sierra LeonPeoples Party SLPP, National Democratic Alliance NDA, Peoples Movement for Democratic Change PMDC and the United Democratic Movement UDM.

Few of the key political figures our source noticed at the meeting include SLPP Chairman, John Benjamin JOB, Sulaiman Banja Tejan Sie also of the SLPP, Mohamed Bangura and Peter Mustapaha of UDM, Mohamed Jalloh, Sylvanus Kanyako and Chernoh Alpha Bah of NDA and Victor Foh of the ruling All Peoples Congress APC.

After discussing several issues relating to the political trend in the country, it was agreed that monthly consultative meetings would be held between the parties involved and the president with the inaugural meeting slated for mid-November.

It was also agreed that the agenda for these meetings will be decided by all registered parties.

Afterwards, President Koroma suggested that a joint statement on this development, signed by all parties present, be issued.

Truly to the President's suggestion, the statement was drafted on that day but it was not made public. It was made confidential and could not be made public because one of them objected to it.

According to our source, NDA's Chernoh Bah protested that while his party is not against the suggestion of a monthly meeting with the President to enhance dialogue between the opposition and the government, NDA does not think it is necessary to issue a joint statement at this stage of the process.

The NDA's refusal to sign the statement made other parties not to sign too though the SLPP leadership, in particular, was desperate to sign it.

Another factor considered about the meeting was that the PMDC was represented by William Tucker and another man who was in court with PMDC leaders - those considered to be suspended by Charles Margai. It practically means that the PMDC was not legitimately represented at the meeting because the legitimacy of the two representatives is questionable.

Dilating on what could have been the outcome of the meeting if the joint statement had been allowed to go into public domain, the ruling APC would have succeeded in leading what a political analyst described as 'empty propaganda' which will only benefit the APC because President Koroma wants to look good before the people and the international community and also wants to calm the pressure and break any relationship between PMDC and SLPP.

"The fact that the President is about to travel to the Commonwealth conference and he's been facing pressure from the opposition especially with the arrest and detention of some SLPP members," another source said, "he might want to use the joint statement to say that he has commenced dialogue with the opposition. Signing the statement can also split the emerging coalition between Margai's PMDC and the SLPP. The UDM and the fake PMDC reps at the meeting will want to have the statement issued because they are doing the APC's job."

A meeting is scheduled for today at the SLPP headquarters.

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