Sierra Leone People’s Party
|Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)|
SLPP symbol, the palm-tree
|Leader||John Oponjo Benjamin|
|Chairperson||John Oponjo Benjamin|
|Secretary-General||Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie|
|Spokesperson||Hon Musa Tamba Sam|
|Founder||Sir Milton Margai|
|Slogan||One Country One People|
|Merger of||Peoples Party (PP), Protectorate Education Progressive Union (PEPU), Sierra Leone Organisation Society (SOS)|
|Headquarters||15 Wallace Johnson Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone|
|Ideology||Democratic socialism|
|Political position||Centre-left|
|Seats in Parliament||
43 / 112
|District Councils Chairperson||
6 / 13
3 / 6
|Politics of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is a social democratic party,[third-party source needed] and one of the two major political parties in Sierra Leone, along with the All People’s Congress (APC). The party dominated Sierra Leone’s politics from it foundation in 1951 to 1967, When it lost the 1967 Sierra Leone parliamentary election to then main opposition All People’s Congress (APC), lead by Siaka Stevens.
In 1996 the SLPP returned to power, as its leader Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won the 1996 Sierra Leone presidential election. The party was in power from 1996 to 2007 when it again lost to then main opposition All People’s Congress (APC), lead by Ernest Bai Koroma in the 2007 Sierra Leone presidential election.
Early success and independence
SLPP dominated politics in Sierra Leone in the years following World War II. In 1955 and 1956, riots occurred in Sierra Leone, originally sparked by the artisan union’s strike over pay, further unrest followed strikes by transport workers. These events led to a growing sense of animosity between the SLPP and Krio parties, especially the Cyril Rogers-Wrightled United Sierra Leone Progressive Party established in 1954. The SLPP was able to position itself as ‘the countryman’s party,’ and notably garnered the support of the tribal chiefs. After elections in 1957, Milton Margai bowed to behind the scenes pressure and stepped down from leadership of the SLPP, with his brother Albert Margai taking his stead. However, in 1958, Albert Margai and Siaka Stevens launched a new party, the People’s National Party (PNP), which aimed for greater African involvement in the British colonial government. With the independence of Ghana in 1957, the PNP sought with this police the support of the educated elite as the party to lead a transition to independence. Stevens would later leave this party to form the northern supported All Peoples Congress. Upon independence in 1961, Milton Margai became Prime Minister, and the SLPP became the ruling party. The SLPP, along with almost all Sierra Leonean political parties, signed the constitution at the London constitutional conference, the APC being the main exception. This unity did not extend to national politics, as opposing politicians often faced detainment under SLPP rule.
Sir Milton Margai‘s death in 1964 left the position of leadership of the SLPP to his brother Sir Albert Margai. Albert’s rule was characterised by dissent. Politically, he attempted to strengthen the position of the SLPP elites in relation to the chiefs, who had formed the backbone of the party. Albert’s personal extravagance led to further animosity, especially after the country faced an economic downturn in 1966. Albert also reinforced the tendency of the SLPP to be a regional and ethnic party, installing a policy of affirmative action to the advantage of the southern Mende tribes. It was thought by opposing leaders that in light of Margai’s declining popularity, Sierra Leone may establish a one-party system. APC victory in the elections in 1967 confirmed that the SLPP would no longer lead the country, and in an attempt to remain in control, Margai convinced the military, under the command of Brigadier Lansana, to stage a coup and declare martial law. The National Reformation Council (NRC) was established to govern the country, and the SLPP was able to remain an influential force. Brigadier Lansana was quickly ousted in a counter-coup (March 23, 1967) led by Major Charles Blake, with the purpose of keeping Albert Margai and the SLPP out of power. This signaled the final blow to the SLPP’s position as a primary political party in Sierra Leone. Under Blake, the National Reformation Council (NRC) replaced the SLPP, and the ruling junta began the process of returning the country to civilian control. This did not occur fast enough, and pressure from the APC, trade unions, and university students led to the junta’s collapse in 1968, and Siaka Stevens became president. When Sierra Leone turned into a one-party state in 1978 all SLPP MPs except one joined the APC. In 1982 the so-called Ndogboyosoi (bush devil) war erupted between the APC government and the SLPP in the south.
In 1996 SLPP returned to prominence, as its candidate Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won the presidential election, receiving 59.5% of the popular vote in a second round against John Karefa-Smart of the United National People’s Party (UNPP). In the election held on May 14, 2002, the party won 69.9% of the popular vote and 83 out of 112 seats in the House of Representatives, and its candidate in the presidential election, Kabbah, won 70.1% of the vote and was re-elected. At the SLPP’s national convention in Makeni on September 3–4, 2005, Vice-President Solomon Berewa was selected by the SLPP as its leader and its 2007 presidential candidate. He received 291 votes, while Charles Margai received 34, Julius Maada Bio received 33, and J. B. Dauda received 28.“Vice President Berewa Leads SLPP”, statehouse-sl.org, September 6, 2005.In the August 2007 election, the SLPP was defeated by the APC in the parliamentary election, receiving 43 seats against 59 for the APC; the PMDC, a party founded by Charles Margai as a split from the SLPP that attracted some of the support of traditionally SLPP voters, won 10 seats. In the presidential election, the SLPP candidate, Berewa, took second place in the first round, winning 38.3% of the vote against 44.3% for the APC candidate, Ernest Bai Koroma.“Freetown opposition party wins majority”, Reuters (IOL), August 24, 2007.A second round of the presidential election was held in September; Koroma prevailed with 54.6% of the vote against 45.4% for Berewa.Rod MacJohnson, “Sierra Leone gets a new leader”, AFP (The Times, South Africa), September 17, 2007.“S Leone opposition win presidency”, BBC News, 17 September 2007.In keeping with the SLPP constitution, which requires its leader to resign if the party loses a national election under his leadership, Berewa resigned as party leader on October 17, 2007, leaving Alhaji Sulaiman Jah as acting leader.“Berewa steps aside after losing vote”, AFP (IOL), October 18, 2007.In 2011, Julius Maada Bio became SLPP’s nominee for the 2012 presidential election. He beat Usman Boie Kamara, who came in second place.