The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has accused the governing All People’s Congress (APC) of undermining the country’s fledgling democracy.
Lahai Laurence Leema, acting Publicity Secretary of the main opposition party in the country had accused the APC of seeking to divide their party. He singled out Local Government Minister, Maya Kai Kai and Robin Fallay, both of whom are strong APC figures,as masterminds behind the alleged latest move to divide the opposition.
Mr Fallay, who is Publicity Secretary 2 of the APC, allegedly connived with Mr Kaikai to get five SLPP councilors from the Kenema District Council to denounce their leadership and showered praises on President Ernest Bai Koroma during a controversial meeting held at State House last week.
According to reports, the five councilors had gone to State House to apologise to the President and thank him for his development strides in the district. Apparently they did so to have the president consider Kenema, an opposition SLPP stronghold, for development projects.
The people of Kenema had complained of neglect when it comes to development and the Mayor, Joseph Kaifala, had even accused the government of nepotism in favor of President Koroma’s northern region.
Kenema is considered one of the most under-developed regionsin the country, despite being home to the third largest town [Kenema Town] in the country, after Freetown and Bo.
Mr Fallay, a former SLPP lawmaker from Kailahun District, who switched allegiance to the APC shortly before the 2012 elections, said he talked the five councils into visiting State House because he wanted to help bring development to their people.
The councilors reportedly denounced Mayor Keifala who was portrayed as anti-development. They also claimed they had been sanctioned by their constituents to engage in dialogue rather than confrontation to seek development for them.
But the SLPP insisted that the move was designed to divide the party.
Leema said the opposition party intended to lodge a formal complaint with the political parties regulatory body [PPRC] for appropriate actions.
“Maya Kai Kai and Hon. Robin Fallay are inciting the five councilors from the Kenema City Council against the SLPP to undermine the internal political dynamics of our party,” Leema told Politico on Wednesday.
He added: “We will formally write the Political Parties Registration Commission [PPRC] to complain the APC for interfering into the SLPP internal affairs.”
Maya Kaikai was elevated to the position of minister during President Ernest Bai Koroma’s recent cabinet reshuffle. Before then he was Resident Minister East, with an office in Kenema.
Leema said Kaikai’s effort to destabilise the opposition began since he was Resident Minister. He said the minister back then worked closely with the five councilors.
“Now that he is the Local Government Minister, he wants to continue using them against SLPP,”Leema claimed.
The SLPP which took offence in the State House meeting had described the actions of the ‘rebel’ councilors as show of “indiscipline”. Its spokesman said their action had subjected the party to ridicule.
Leema also said the APC’s move was part of its alleged longstanding plan of re-introduce one-party system.
“The APC is inciting the councilors to reintroduce the one party system. Hon. Robin Fallay is leading these councilors to corrupt multi-party democracy and pluralism in the country,” he said. He said this was also the final push for the so-called ‘More Time’ campaign which seeks to lengthen President Koroma’s stay in office beyond his constitutional term.
“The councilors came to Freetown, visited State House, without the knowledge of neither the Kenema City Council nor the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. Their conduct falls outside the party’s constitution,” Leema, who is a retired army officer, said.
He claimed that the constituents of the five councilors had already written letters to the Kenema City Councildistancing themselves from the State House meeting.
“Kenema City Council will forward those complained to the National Executive Council of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party for possible actions against them,” he said.
Robin Fallay served as MP for Segbwema in the Kailahun District between 2007 and 2012.He suddenly switched over to the APC after losing the party’s ticket for the parliamentary seat.
Fallay was subsequently elected into the executive of the APC. He has since made name for himself by strengthening the APC’s support base in the eastern opposition heartland.
MrFallay told Politico that his intention with regards taking the five councilors to State House was not to incite the councilors against their party, and rather, it was to help them bring development to the region.
“If I had wanted to bring them to the APC, I will not have taken them to State House. I could have had quiet engagement with the councilors elsewhere,” Fallay said, adding that the division within the SLPP had brought theongoing “confusion and misunderstanding.”
“I, together with Maya Kaikai, have always been in engagement with the Eastern Region Councils. Our concern was making sure that we take development to the people, but the SLPP is reluctant,” Fallay added in a telephone interview. He said his APC colleague, Maya Kai Kai,had long been working with SLPP alongside the police, military, and market womenbecause he was the Resident Minister in the East.
He said that the problem of Kenema was caused by its Mayor, J.SKaifala, whohe described as “stubborn”and refusing to accommodate other political parties,unlike his “very engaging” predecessor, BrimaKargbo. Mayor Kaifala did not respond to our request for a comment.