A statement by a cabinet minister in Sierra Leone's
government that Ghanaian President John Kufuor helped a former opposition party
defeat the incumbent party in last year's general election is generating
controversy. The minister for labor and employment said President Kufuor helped
the All People Congress (APC) party in its strategy to defeat the incumbent
Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) by advising the opposition to employ more
than seven thousand strong polling agents during the elections to ensure
victory. But the SLPP described the revelation as an infringement on the
sovereignty of Sierra Leone, as well as an affront to the tenets of the
Economic Community of West African States not to interfere in the internal
politics of neighboring countries in the sub-region. Kelvin Lewis reports for
the Voice of America in Sierra Leone. From the capital, Freetown he tells reporter
Peter Clottey that the SLPP, now in the opposition, is unhappy about the
Ghanaian High Commissioner here has issued a statement trying to refute the
story that in fact the Ghanaian president did give help to the ruling APC
party. This actually came up in a report in a newspaper the Concord Times. But
I was there at the opening of a real estate development, which was the first of
a gated community to be opened. And it was at that ceremony that the minister
of labor did say that in one of their meetings, when they were consulting, they
had a meeting with President Kufuor," Lewis noted.
said the minister's pronouncement is generating discomfort among some Sierra
in one of their intense meetings, he said that President Kufuor advised them to
have over seven thousand polling agents if they were to unseat the SLPP. It has
been looked on as what President Kufuor did to help the APC in winning the
election," he said.
said some critics of the ruling party say if the minister's pronouncement was
accurate, then the sovereignty of Sierra Leone was highly undermined.
that is true, and I think that is why the Ghanaian High Commissioner here tried
to put up a statement to emphasize that President Kufuor and President (Tijan)
Kabbah had very good relations, and the relationship that President (Ernest)
Koroma is now benefiting from was actually cemented by President Kabbah and
President Kufuor. And she was trying to emphasize that President Kabbah did play
a role, and that President Kabbah and President Kufuor are very good friends,"
Lewis pointed out.
said although there seems to be history between the Ghanaian government and the
Sierra Leonean government, sovereignty should not have been compromised.
actually agree with the lot of critics here having said that this is not
something that should have done, that the Ghanaian president should have stayed
off the internal politics of Sierra Leone," he said.
the opposition SLPP is displeased with the minister's pronouncement, Lewis says
there is very little it could do to have its concerns addressed.
don't think they can do much other than make public their antagonism against
such an issue. All what they can do is give the public their statement
condemning the action, and that is all I think they can do, and I don't think
there is anymore that they can do," Lewis pointed out.
said the ruling ACP party claims it did not consult with the Ghanaian president
in isolation, but that other heads of states in the sub-region were consulted.
they are saying that a lot of these consultations happened with a lot of other
West African leaders, and that it was not President Kufuor alone. They are
obviously not happy with it, but they also had that opportunity to be able to
cement that relationship," he said.