Over 50 political party youths representing 10 political parties including APC, SLPP, NDA, and PMDC, convergedon the eastern town of Kenema to hold the second national delegates' convention of the All Political Parties Youth Association (APPYA) which started on Friday andended on Sunday 17th June. The conference, which was organized bythe Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), was working under thedirect efforts of the United Nations in promoting political tolerance and non-violence in elections.
The SLPP Bo district young generationleader, Musa Moigua, said the convention was aimed at creating a forum forconfidence-building among youths with various political ideologies, adding thatthe convention, which is usually climaxed by the holding of elections forchange of leadership, could not hold "because of selfishness and thirst for powerdemonstrated by the hierarchy of APC youths, particularly the APC national youthpresident. They decided to boycott the elections on the advice of theirnational youth president, Hon. Alimamy Kamara."
Moigua expressed his frustrationover what he described as "indecent attitude and show of intolerancedemonstrated by the APC youths present at the convention". He said such an attitudeundermines political party cohesion, tolerance and non-violence efforts aheadof the general elections in November this year. He added that such an act bythe APC youths has the potential of betraying the purpose for which APPYA wasformed.
He explained that theposition of Chairman in APPYA has been rotational beginning with the SLPP, PMDCand now should be occupied by the APC or NDA, and that they (SLPP) were neveraverse to either party leading the group. "But considering the fact that youhave both APC and NDA members serving in the current executive and have acquittedthemselves well in those positions, it was deemed necessary for the position ofChairman to have come from within the current executive bearing in mind thedonor credibility and closeness to the November polls," he said.
However, the SLPP younggeneration leader blamed the PPRC and NEC for not allowing the elections to goahead after 22 APC youths decided to boycott the exercise "on selfish grounds".
For his part, the APC nationalyouth president, Hon. Alimamy Kamara, accused the SLPP Bo district young generationleader of lacking sincerity in his statements, pointing out that it was theSLPP youths backed by some very senior politicians that provoked them into protestingagainst the idea of APC youths taking over the leadership of APPYA.
The APC, Hon. Kamara said,was reasonable enough to support the SLPP when they wanted the APPYA leadershipin 2007. He said they also supported the PMDC to assume the chairmanship in thepast years. "But I was perturbed by the protest of the SLPP that the NDA shouldlead APPYA now and not APC; a decision that contravenes the internalunderstanding among us regarding the leadership of APPYA," he said and vowed toname and shame some senior politicians within the SLPP who he alleged to have incitedtheir party youths to kick against the APC's quest of leading the organisation aheadof the polls.
The Political PartiesRegistration Commission (PPRC) Youth Affairs Officer, Ibrahim Amara Kamara, saidhis commission has no mandate to conduct elections as that responsibility fallsunder the purview of NEC. He affirmed that the PPRC stands to fully implementthe Political Party Code of Practice for free, fair, peaceful and non violenceelections.
Meanwhile, observers in bothKenema and Bo were not satisfied with the outcome of the conventionparticularly when the key agenda of electing a new executive did notmaterialise. Many are worried about the level of division among political partyyouths.
It could be recalled that APPYAwas set up to bridge the communication gap between political party youths andto eliminate tensions and political violence but the bad blood exhibited duringthe just-concluded convention still leaves much to be desired.