Pa-o-pa – 1, Tolongbo – 1

 

With two council bye-elections having been conducted by the National Elections Commission (NEC) since the end of the March 2018 national elections – the first one in the Sierra Leone People’s Party stronghold of Bonthe where President Bio hails from and the other one conducted past Saturday in Kambia district where the All People’s Congress 2018 presidential candidate, Dr Samura Kamara hails from – the political score between the two leading parties in the country now stands at Pa-o-pa 1, Tolongbo 1.

A lot of tension and agitation attended past Saturday’s encounter in Ward 196, Tonko Limba Chiefdom in Kambia district between the two traditional giants of Sierra Leone politics, with their smaller brother from the National Grand Coalition pulling at their tail as they battled for supremacy in the hotly contested council bye-election.

At the end of the day, after a lot of pushing and shoving, the polls closed and the votes were tallied. With disputation and cancelling of excess ballots, the Commissioner and Chief National Returning Officer of the National Elections Commission, Nfa Alie Conteh, announced that the Sierra Leone People’s Party candidate had beaten his All Peoples Congress challenger to the post who was followed in third position by the National Grand Coalition candidate.

The result of the Ward 196 left the SLPP Chairman, Dr. Prince Harding, gloating with pride and satisfaction that their party had managed to beat their arch political rival in their own backyard; as the seat was won by the APC candidate in the March 2018 elections. His death caused the bye-election which was first held in September last year but cancelled due to violence that resulted in the death of a 14 year old boy.

Commenting on the APC Secretary General’s statement that his party does not accept the result, the SLPP Chairman said it is their right. However, he called on APC to accept the people’s wish, noting that elections swing like a pendulum and so was glad that SLPP had bloodied APC’s nose in what is considered their stronghold. He said he has a lot of respect for Ambassador Yansaneh, stating that he expected that Amb. Yansaneh should have been the first person to call him and congratulate him on the SLPP victory. Asked about the National Election Watch’s adverse comments on the conduct of the election, Dr. Harding opined that they are APC sponsored stooges. What he is concerned about is that SLPP has succeeded to make strong inroad into the APC stronghold with an increased percentage of votes. He calculated that in 2023 if SLPP manages to secure 35% of all the votes cast in that election, bingo! SLPP will retain State House.

Meanwhile, political commentators note that it was APC who first bloodied the nose of SLPP by winning a council seat in a bye-election conducted by NEC last year the home district of President Bio.