London, Nov. 5, GNA – President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone has been urged to leave a ‘democratic legacy’ in the country as he steps down from power next year.
The country is gearing up for what could to be closely fought presidential, parliamentary and local elections in March 2018.
The former Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Dr Kandeh K.Yumkella, who is preparing to vie for the presidency, told the GNA in an interview in London that President Koroma should follow in the footsteps of the late President Tejan Kabbah.
He said President Kabbah, who came to power towards the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war in 1996, “sued for peace, worked on building key institutions and maintained the democratic process”.
He added that President Kabbah also had a government that was “inclusive”.
Dr Yumkella told the GNA: “For President Koroma, he has to make sure that democracy is not derailed and ensure there is no violence during the elections.
“This should be his legacy.
“But will he do it?
“Only history will tell,” Dr Yumkella added.
“President Kabbah was the moral voice of the SLPP and President Koroma, too, has to set the moral tone and support democracy.
“He can set the tone now to allow free and fair elections.
“He has to do this for his legacy, and he has that responsibility to the nation.”
The former UNIDO boss began his drive for power four years ago when he left the organisation after serving two terms.
He then formed the Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) Movement and joined the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).
But he recently left the party amid claims by his detractors that he did so because he was not guaranteed the position of presidential candidate.
They argued that his father did not abandon the SLPP in the 1960s when he did not become leader of the party.
However, he told the GNA that he left the SLPP because it had deviated from its founding principles based on inclusivity.
“The party has become devoid of these core values, so I decided to move on.
“Some within the party wanted me to hang on but there is too much corruption within the leadership.
“If the leaders are so corrupt, what will they do when they get to power?” Dr Yumkella added.
He has now thrown in his lot with the recently registered National Grand Coalition (NGC), which is vying against the two established political parties – the SLPP and President Koroma’s All People’s Congress (APC).
Dr Yumkella believes the battle for power will be fought among the 650,000 first-time voters – mainly the young people.
But what will the NGC offer Sierra Leoneans that is different from what the other two parties are promising?
Warming to the theme of development, Dr Yumkella told the GNA: “The NGC will follow a results-based policy whereby contractors will be policed by the people to deliver on development projects.
“There are too many contracts that have been awarded without the projects being completed.
“With my experience in development, I will give a timetable of what can be delivered and what can’t in the first five years of our government.
“Development is incremental.
“We have to start adding value to our natural resources.
“For example, we are sitting on huge reserves of iron ore, so we can have steel plants,” Dr Yumkella added.
In a country with a perennial electricity problem, he said he would addressed the issue of generating power not just in Sierra Leone but in Africa in general where over 600 million people do not have access to electricity.
There is a conversation now about using Africa’s massive coal reserves to tackle the problem of energy although climate change activists are not too keen on that.
But Dr Yumkella told the GNA: “Africa should look at every solution to generate energy.
“You can’t discriminate against Africa now when it comes to the use of coal for its development.
“You have to balance the various interests.”
Meanwhile, President Koroma has wrong-footed his party by choosing Foreign Minister Samura Kamara, to be the party’s presidential candidate.
Mr. Kamara was not among the 28 candidates who had lined up to contest the position, much to the anger of the contestants, including Vice-President Victor Foh.
The SLPP has selected Maada Bio, a former military ruler, to run for the presidency.