Tuesday September 5, 2005
By Soriba Kalokoh reporting from Port Loko
Precisely at 3: 45am Sunday morning, Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma was proclaimed the new Presidential candidate for the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) at the end of their Delegates Conference held at the Bai Bureh Hall in the township of Port Loko.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Lawyer Rtd. Major Paolo Conteh made the pronouncement, which sent packed-full hall into wild jubilation. Hon. Ernest Bai Koroma got the presidential clearance after he was elected unopposed. This was after former Deputy Minister in the Siaka Stevens era Alhaji Abdul Bun Mansaray declined when he was nominated for the same position. Ernest Bai Koroma also went unopposed for the position of National Chairman and Party Leader.
He was nominated by another former Minister- Abdul Iscandri and was seconded by Ibrahim Bundu. In his after-election speech, Hon. Ernest Koroma called for unity within the Party while still extending the olive branch to all dissidents in the Party. He promised to offer a strong leadership, strengthen private sector and ensure a stable climate for investment.
He assured the nation that if he becomes President, he would “sustain attack on corruption” and set up an implementation committee to ensure that all budgeted government programmes be implemented. He went on say that he would approach the international community not for donations but as partners in trade. 426 members were registered as delegates; 31 of these were absent and 395 delegates actually voted in the elections. The convention also saw the election of political firebrand- Victor Bockarie Foh as Secretary General of the Party by defeating the incumbent- Osman Yansaneh by 225 to 161 votes. Hon. Victor Chukuma Johnson got 253 votes to win the position of National Deputy Chairman and Deputy Leader of the APC Party by defeating John Yambasu, the previous holder, who secured 80 votes, while US-based Leonard Bernard Balogun Koroma aka ?Logus’ had 58 votes to his credit.
Winning the position of National Assistant Secretary General by 150 votes was Mohamed Akar Koroma who defeated three other aspirants- Mrs. Catherine Latiff Koroma, (139 votes), Bella Fofanah (38 votes) and Patrick Morlai Kargbo (60 votes). The Deputy Mayor of Freetown, Foday Kalokoh swept the polls for the position of National Organising Secretary by 215 votes as against 178 scored by Parliamentarian Kemoh Sesay. Muctarr Conteh who got 153 votes won the position of National Assistant Organising Secretary. William Smith who is the Editor of “We Yone” newspaper became the National Publicity Secretary with 330 votes to his credit. Jacob Koroma had 261 votes to take the position of National Assistant Publicity Secretary.
The position for National Treasurer was clinched by Sanie Sesay with 284 votes. The National Advisory Council during the convention endorsed the various Regional Chairmen, National Youth League and Women’s Congress. The Delegates Conference also saw the setting up of a Constitutional Review Committee which comprised: Mayor of Freetown- Winstanley Johnson, Hon. Dauda S. Kamara, Victor Foh, Osman F. Yansaneh, Lansana Dumbuya and an overseas member.
The atmosphere within the hall was so friendly and peaceful that it was hard to detect whom the losers or the victors were. Merriment rounded up the event that went on hitch- free. The election was conducted in a free and fair manner as all contestants accepted the final results. Members of the dissident faction of the APC comprising Hon. Eddie Turay, Hon. Serry Kamal, Hon. Jengo Stevens and Hon. Osho-Williams were conspicuously absent all throughout the four-day convention. The British High Commissioner, American and Chinese Ambassadors witnessed the opening ceremony.