The present scenario after the release of the presidential elections is very different and much more complex than the 2007 pre-runoff situation for the following reasons:
1. There is more than one party that both contending parties have to reach out to
2. The two emerging parties have a real chance of maintaining relevance even after the runoffs
3. The two emerging parties already have some significant parliamentary/chairmanship and councilor seats giving them an active role in governance
4. A golden opportunity to permanently change the political landscape of Sierra Leone
5. End Tribal Politics
More Parties to Romance:
Unlike 2007 when it was just the Charles Margai led PMDC that was the deciding factor, the 2018 elections have two fast growing parties whose leaders were both former members of the two main parties. NGC leaders were mainly from the SLPP while C4C leaders were from the APC.
For any party to win this runoff election, they have to gather votes from both NGC and C4C supporters.
The real issue here is how deep and how severe was the rift between the two emerging party leaders and their former allies in their old parties.
Maintaining Relevance after the Runoffs
Whoever wins the runoffs will determine how much relevance the two emerging parties will continue to have.
Supporting a cracked APC party with very serious internal divides and grievances as seen in outplay of the results might be the better option because the center is showing signs that it can no longer hold.
The coming 5 years can be utilized by the two emerging parties to form alliances with the significant number of disgruntled APC leaders who would rather form new alliances than succumb to what is seen as the dictatorial position of Dr. Ernest Koroma.
Supporting a fierce and power hungry SLPP might not have long term benefit for the two emerging parties because the majority of the middle aged current SLLP leaders only remind one of the same kind of APC leaders in 2007 and given the opportunity of gaining power will see them using everything at their disposal to hold on to power for the next 10 years minimum.
The current SLPP leaders have also proven from their immediate past internal party squabbles that they can’t really accommodate divergent positions or views.
If NGC and C4C are keen to remain relevant with the possibility of gaining more footholds in Sierra Leone politics then their alliance for this runoff must be critically analyzed for the future benefit and not just the peripheral desires for change or removal of Ernest Koroma’s influence. Interestingly this could actually be a case of Frienemies (Enemies treated as Friends) because you are better off keeping your enemies closer like friends so you can guarantee your survival.
This certainly are not simple decisions to make, the emerging parties should actually be drawing out their own terms for alliance based on the opportunities for maintaining relevance and not just recouping of spent financial resources or acquiring some lush government positions or contracts.
Part of Governance
Unlike the 2007 scenario, the two emerging parties already have a significant amount of elected seats in the Parliamentary, Chairmanship and Councilor levels of government giving them an opportunity to show Sierra Leoneans a semblance of what they can do at a national scale.
This also will provide some amount of financial liquidity within the party without needing to rely solely on campaign donors or sources which might not be able to go through the 5 years stretch before the next elections.
This runoff provides the two emerging parties an opportunity to considerably if not permanently change the landscape of Sierra Leone politics by establishing themselves as a permanent variable in the mix of the choices available to citizens by not allowing whatever alliance they make or don’t make with two contenders to gradually subsume them like the Charles Margai PMDC suffered under APC.
The PMDC failure rather than being scorned and trivialized should actually be studied and properly analyzed to prevent same fate happening to them.
End Tribal Politics
Simply put, from the demographics of the results from the strongholds of the SLPP party, the people voted overwhelmingly for only them and not for the two emerging parties.
This was not so in the other parts of the country where votes were shared amongst all parties.
The C4C stronghold of Kono still voted for SLPP thereby debunking claims that others are tribalistic as well; some have even further pushed the issue by saying it is the same Mendes in Kono known as Kono-Mendes that voted the predominantly Mende SLPP party giving them a few seats in the Kono district.
The APC have also been accused by the Mendes of being a Temne party but this is easily dispelled as there are quite a significant presence of other ethnic folks at the helm of the present government and the party leadership.
Another school of thought is that Mendes are very domineering by nature and as such will easily overshadow other tribes in the distribution of positions and appointments.
There is the underlying fear that an SLPP reign will bring about great suppression of the other ethnic minority groups in the country.
A weaker SLPP some have said will keep ethnic tribal politics at a controllable level.
NGC and C4C are not just the next king makers, they actually hold the keys for shaping Sierra Leone’s future political landscape and generations to come will remember and hold them responsible for whatever happens next….
Game on Sierra Leone…..