Former Head of State and Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC), Retired Captain Valentine Essegrabo Melvine Strasser has given his verdict about the two presidential contenders who worked with him in different capacities ahead of the Presidential election run off on March 27.

Rtd. Captain Valentine Esegragbo Melvin Strasser was hosted a television show, One On One with Abdul Rahman Kamara on Star TV last wednesday.

It could be recalled that the former Head of State and Chairman of the NPRC, Retired Captain Valentine EM Strasser led a group of soldiers of the then Sierra Leone Army (SLA) to stage a military coup in 1992 that ousted the then All People’s Congress (APC) when he was about twenty-four years old.

Led by Valentine Strasser, the military took over the then All People’s Congress (APC) government of the late President Joseph Saidu Momoh in what was described as a bloodless coup and one which was widely embraced not only domestically but by the international community; when Captain Valentine Strasser became the first and youngest military junta leader to address the United Nations General Assembly a few months later.

While he was Head of State and Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council, the retired Captain Valentine E.M. Strasser had working in his government the current presidential candidates of the All People’s Congress (APC) and Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara and Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio respectively.

Bio’s first appointment following the formation of the NPRC was Secretary of State South. He was stationed in the country’s second capital Bo. He was later moved to Freetown to serve as Secretary of State in charge of Information and Broadcasting.

At this point, he was promoted to Captain alongside other junior lieutenants. As a leading member of the coup that kicked out the then APC government, Bio served as Supreme Council of State member throughout the NPRC’s stay in power and when Strasser’s deputy, Captain S.A.J. Musa, was sacked and exiled to the UK, Bio was appointed to the position of Deputy Chairman of the NPRC.

However, on January 16, 1996, Bio led a military coup, ousting Captain Valentine Strasser following a dispute within the governing Supreme Council of State (SCS) over whether to seek peace with the RUF before multi-party elections, planned for March 1996, or go ahead with the election notwithstanding the ongoing war in the country, and the conditions for participation (or disqualification) of junta members in the elections. The coup was backed by many high-ranking NPRC soldiers including the late Colonel Tom Nyuma, Lt. Colonel Komba Mondeh, Lt. Colonel Reginald Glover, Lt. Colonel Idriss Kamara, and Lt. Colonel Karefa-Kargbo.

During these sensitive years, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara also worked first as Financial Secretary and later as Secretary of State for Finance under the NPRC. He replaced Dr. John Karimu who went on to become presidential candidate of the NUP in the 1996 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. Dr. Samura Kamara combined the two roles – Financial Secretary and Secretary of State for Finance during his spell with the NPRC.