A nine-member disciplinary committee of Sierra Leone’s ruling All People's Congress (APC) unanimously voted to expel Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana from the group after accusing him of breaching the party’s constitution and undermining President Ernest Bai Koroma, according to Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, chairman of the disciplinary committee.
The party’s 1995 constitution empowers the National Advisory Committee to establish a disciplinary committee to investigate and punish partisans guilty of engaging in activities including violence, indiscipline or showing disloyalty to the APC.
Ruling party officials say Aliue Pat Sowe, fisheries and marine resources minister, and Karamoh Kabba, deputy minister for political and public affairs accused the vice president of thwarting efforts of the fight against Ebola.
Vice President Sam-Sumana was also accused of organizing an international teleconference with members of his ethnic group, and alleged to have made disparaging remarks against the president and the ruling APC.
Sam-Sumana denied using abusive language against the president and the party during the disciplinary committee’s investigation, according to Kargbo.
“It was very clear that the vice president provided wrong information to us. For example he said he was a Muslim at the time he wanted to be appointed a running mate. But he was a Christian at the time. And he said he came from some university in the United States, it became very clear later that the information was wrong,” he said.
“This testimony was made by the lady who introduced him to the party and we had no reason to disbelieve it. But the fact is that he has not been able to work with the president and the president finds it very difficult to continue to work with him because he simply was not a part and parcel of the presidency by the president’s own explanation,” Kargbo added.
Vice President Sam-Sumana is currently in a self-imposed quarantine after one of his body guards died of Ebola. His supporters have questioned the timing of the vice president’s expulsion, saying it appears the ruling party was in a hurry to remove him from power. They said it has been evident that the president and aides dislike Sam-Sumana and have often prevented him from holding the fort for the president while he is abroad.
Kargbo, who is also an adviser to the president, disagreed. He says the disciplinary committee spent over two months investigating the allegations against the vice president.
“It was not a haste decision at all,” said Kargbo. “In fact the committee had written its report, well before he went into quarantine. What is also clear is that he appeared before the committee about two months ago and it was he in fact who delayed activities of the disciplinary committee. Because when we asked him to produce the telephone [recording] of the teleconference call, which he promised to bring to us, he never actually did bring it and it delayed us a little bit.”
Sierra Leone’s constitution states that to hold the high office of the vice president, a person must belong to a political party.
Analysts, however say it remains unclear if the parliament or the Supreme Court would move to pressure the vice president to step down after he comes out of his self-imposed Ebola quarantine.
Some citizens, home and abroad, say the expulsion of the vice president could create tension and possibly worsen the ongoing fight against Ebola. But, Kargbo disagreed.
“I know that one of the reasons why he and the president almost fell out was the fact that the president suspected that he has not played a major role in the fight against Ebola. For a long time he was not participating effectively. So to me I do not think this decision will affect us in our fight against Ebola,” said Kargbo.