The much talked about flag bearer and national delegate conference of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has been shifted to 6th and 7th October 2017 in Freetown.
This decision was reached during a meeting held by the Political Party Registration Committee (PPRC) on Tuesday where almost all flag bearer aspirants and executive members of the party reached a consensus not to conduct the two elections on the same date.
John Oponjo Benjamin (JOB) former chairman and now flag bearer aspirant of the SLPP had threatened court action if the party’s present National Executive goes ahead to conduct the flag bearer elections.
His contention was that the mandate of the National Executive had expired and so “has no business in conducting flag bearer elections.” Because of this reason, JOB said he refused to apply for the flag bearer position, which expired past Thursday still maintaining his ground that the National Executive should not conduct the flag bearer elections.
However, with the new date scheduled for the flag bearer elections, Benjamin said “I am ready to go into the race and we have even agreed that when the new executive takes over they will be responsible to conduct the elections for flag bearer.”
The Chairman and leader of the Party Chief Somano Karpen said during the meeting almost all the flag bearer aspirants were present when the decision was made, and this was done “in the best interest of the party and it is a way forward that will foster unity and strengthen the party to move to the 2018 elections.”
Confirming the new arrangement, Chief Karpen said the flag bearer election will be conducted by the new executive of the party, after the September conference.
Reacting to the press release and the shifting of the date John Benjamin said “We are part of it, we are happy at least we have ensured that our party is trying to resolve issues in-house, and they have seen sense that t I was fighting in the interest of the party which they have accepted.”
He said “we are not just going out there to rush into a convention just to get flag bearer. The important thing is that we need to get the flag bearer candidacy right because if we fail to get it right, we won’t get the presidency so we need to take our time to get it correctly.”
He said he is confident that he is going to win the flag bearer elections because as it is “the only job for the outgoing National Executive is to conduct elections for the national officers. They (meaning the out-going National Executive) are not going to interview me.”
Benjamin disclosed that if he loses he will definitely support the winner but “since I will be winning then they should support me because I’m going into the race with the hope that I am going to win. And so I am appealing to them to give me full support when I win.”
The former SLPP chairman however did not believe that this will be the end of the confusion in the party “until people are civil and realise that when once an individual has served the party, they have no business to insult people, we should condemn violence.”
He said he is not “100% satisfied with the outcome because even in the Constituency elections there was so much rancour and fighting.”
By Betty Milton
Wednesday September 13, 2017.