Another standard bearer aspirant of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) yesterday announced his decision to quit the race, citing "gross marginalization" of senior members and supporters within the party as reason for his decision.
According to Andrew Keili, some of them who had dissenting views that the party should launch an investigation into the poor performance of their standard bearer in the 2012 poll as well as embark on remedial measures to put them on a good footing have been largely ignored.
He was speaking at a presser hosted at the conference hall of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) in Freetown, where he claimed that the SLPP's administrative and financial capacity to address current and future needs remain severely constrained.
He said his supporters and those he has had close relationship with in the All Aspirants Alliance (AAA) of the party have been marginalised by "ill-motivated individuals within the SLPP."
Mr. Keili has been making frantic efforts to lead the party in a national election since 2010, culminating in his contesting for the top position and coming third, behind Osman Boie Kamara and the eventual winner Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.
But the announcement yesterday means his name will be among aspirants vying to lead the opposition party in crucial elections in March 2018.
He told journalists that, "I have made the decision, in consultation with my family and supporters, not to participate in what, to all extent and purposes, will be a "Coronation" and in the imminent convention as this will lend credence to the actions that have brought the SLPP to this unfortunate state," adding "It took a lot of courage to step out of the race at this time." He insisted that the issue was not about him winning the race but rather people (whom he did not name) messing- up the SLPP.
The engineer-cum-politician stated that he refused to pay the nomination fee prescribed by the party because he didn't want to be a part of the current system.
He contended that numerous events that have plagued the party over the past several months were caused by a faction and the national executive at the helm, determined to have the previous flag-bearer aspirant to again lead them in the March 7, 2018 presidential election.
"The Party's structure and mediation and arbitration mechanisms have fallen apart and Trustees and Elders have either become complicit in illegal actions or abandoned the party altogether," he said.
Mr. Keili maintained that because of the myriad issues, it was obvious that the outcome of the October standard bearer election would be "a fait accompli as a spate of illegal and irregular actions have ensued this."