Defections and alliances shape Sierra Leone politics ahead of June polls.
With slightly over a month to the general elections in Sierra Leone, scheduled to take place on the 24th of June 2023, defections and alliances between political parties continue to shape the electoral period.
One of such interesting political alliances is between the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led by incumbent President Julius Maada Bio and the opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) led by Dr Kandeh Yumkella. The alliance favors the incumbent President Julius Maada Bio to run as the sole presidential candidate on the SLPP ticket with promises to NGC party leaders to be part of the coalition government in case SLPP wins the election.
In retaliation, over 400 members of NGC who were not happy with the alliance between their party and NGC have since joined the All Peoples Congress (APC), the biggest opposition political party. Dr Samura Kamara of the main opposition party – APC is the main challenger to the re-election of President Julius Maada Bio. The SLPP ruling party has made it difficult for the main opposition challenger Dr Samura to freely campaign as he battles a corruption case at the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The NGC party was formed in 2017 as more of a splinter group from SLPP with most of its party leaders predominantly members from SLPP. In fact, political analysts have interpreted this alliance as a mere reconciliation act dubbed as a ‘prodigal son stunt’
The other opposition political party, Coalition for Change (C4C) having been disqualified from contesting in the forthcoming elections due to High Court injunction, finds itself at crossroads and negotiating behind the scenes to ally with President Bio’s ruling SLPP.
The Secret Known is that the defections and alliances are expected to advantage the ruling party, especially under the new electoral system of Proportional Representation (PR) that replaced the constituency-based – first past the post system. President Maaba Bio of ruling SLPP was much in support of Proportional Representation as he came up against the hostility from opposition members early in 2023. Under this system, political parties are represented in parliament proportionate to the votes garnered. However, the proportional representation system doesn’t favor small political parties which usually fail to raise the threshold numbers to be elected in parliament. As such, their best bet is to form alliances with the major political parties.
As it stands now, the race remains between the ruling SLPP and the leading main opposition party APC.