Sierra Leone:How efforts to build Socialist Party was foiled! By James Koroma
The Chairman of the African Socialist Movement (ASM) of Sierra Leone has revealed how his efforts to build a workers party in that country two years ago were undermined by the Uhuru Movement based in Florida, United States of America.
Reading from a statement recently issued by the ASM in response to an attack by the Uhuru Movement, Chernoh Alpha Bah told an audience in the Chinese capital Beijing on Saturday night that his plans to transform his movement into a socialist party in Sierra Leone in 2009 was affected by “the lack of sincerity” on the part of those who had earlier encouraged him to undertake the said task.
“Our experiment to build the party suffered a major setback due to the lack of sincerity by Omali Yeshitela and his group to genuinely build a real revolutionary party that will actually contest for real power in Sierra Leone,” he says, while dispelling accusations by the group that the decision was his alone.
“The decision to form a socialist party in Sierra Leone was directly the instructions of Omali Yeshitela and that the entire leadership of the Uhuru Movement was equally aware of the limitations imposed on my efforts in Sierra Leone,” Bah said, adding that he has copies of several email correspondences with Omali Yeshitela to justify this fact.
“The truth is that the Uhuru Movement wanted us to establish a branch in Sierra Leone but they were unwilling to accept the burden of organizing such a formation in the country,” he said, while explaining that his disagreement with the Uhuru Movement reached a climax in January of 2010, a month after the attempt to transform the Africanist Movement into a socialist party.
“The Sierra Leone government had introduced a 15% tax increase on goods and services across the country at a time when workers salaries had remained abysmally low. We conveyed a press conference calling for a struggle against the new tax legislation. The following day, shops and businesses across the country remained closed. That evening, the IMF and World Bank representatives issued a joint statement calling on the people of Sierra Leone to support the new tax legislation; a position which also warranted us to issue another statement condemning the World Bank and IMF officials,” Bah told his audience.
He says the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) was to issue an ultimate ban against the existence of the party on technical grounds that it was not a registered political party in the country.
“It was obvious that for the party to exist in Sierra Leone, it had to fulfil the conditions laid down by the laws of the country. This includes the fact that it should have four offices across the country and the payment of a registration fee of US$500,” he says whilst revealing that there were no such offices for the party’s operation neither was there any money available to pay the stipulated registration fees.
“We appeared to be faced with a dilemma because we were no longer allowed to organize in the name of the party in Sierra Leone. We attempted several discussions with the leadership of the Uhuru Movement on the way forward,” he said, adding that, “Omali Yeshitela’s interest was not to legitimize the party but rather requested that the idea of the party should be abandoned and that a branch of his International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) should be established in Sierra Leone instead of the party.”
Bah says what the Uhuru Movement wanted was to justify that they have a branch in Sierra Leone and nothing more.
“They were never committed to building an actual revolutionary party that will struggle for the conquest of real political power,” he revealed and stated that they refused to form InPDUM because they were not a branch of Omali Yeshitela’s group.
“We communicated this position to Omali Yeshitela and the entire leadership of the Uhuru Movement but it was obvious that they were very annoyed with our independent position,” he informed the gathering.
He said the Uhuru Movement wanted a relationship typical to what the Soviet Union had with Cuba and China in the 1960s.
“This we couldn’t accept,” he stated, while revealing that they were later to discover that the Uhuru Movement had embarked on an effort to bribe some members of his organizations into accepting requests to build InPDUM in exchange for promises of travel to the United States for further political training with the Uhuru Movement.
“Some of these individuals were part of the group of security forces we had assigned as close protection guards to Omali Yeshitela during his visit to Sierra Leone for the consultative conference of November 2009,” he disclosed.
He says his organization has copies of several email correspondences from Uhuru Movement leaders to some of their members who were approached by the Uhuru Movement to betray the leadership of his organization.
“We had to discontinue our relationship when we realized that the Uhuru Movement had embarked on this program of subversive activities against our leadership on the ground in a bid to divide and conquer our base,” Bah stated.
Chernoh Alpha Bah, who is currently in China as part of an international tour to win political support for his African Socialist Movement (ASM), is currently the Official Spokesperson of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Sierra Leone.
In March 2010, the ASM formed a coalition with the NDA in preparation for the elections of November this year. The coalition arrangement, according to ASM sources, will allow ten of its members to contest for parliamentary and local council positions in the November elections in the country under the ticket of the NDA.
Chernoh Alpha Bah, as leader of the socialist movement, has already declared his plans to contest for a parliamentary position in Makeni – the home of president Koroma who has been in power since 2007. Other possible candidates of the ASM include Saa Famanda, General Secretary of the ASM, who is aspiring for a seat in Freetown’s rural district.
Mr. Bah’s international tour is scheduled to stop in Cuba, Venezuela, Thailand and ends up in the United States in September.
Ajamu Bandele, ASM’s Director of International Affairs based in the United States of America, who is coordinating the tour, says it provides an opportunity to “establish principled relationship with the genuine struggle of African people on the continent.”
A statement posted on http://www.africanunitytour.com says Mr. Bah will be touring the United States alongside Hajj Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X.
(official article can be found at: http://www.africanews.com/site/list_message/41559)