Salone News

Fierce Battle in Makeni

2 September 2005 at 10:02 | 539 views

By Gibril Gbanabome Koroma

Makeni, the capital of the Northern region will be the scene of one of the fiercest battles in the political history of Sierra Leone as supporters of lawyer Charles Margai and the country’s embattled Vice president Solomon Berewa face each other this weekend.

The cause of the brouhaha is the recent torpedo of the Supreme Court motion by incarcerated Kamajor leader Hinga Norman against the election of a party leader at the much publicised SLPP convention scheduled for the 19th and 20th last month.In its ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that Norman lacked "Locus Standi" which is legal jargon essentially meaning he has no right in law to file such a motion.Before the ruling top SLPP brass had already announced that the convention will be held this Saturday, fuelling speculations that they already knew about the Supreme Court decision.

If all the contestants for the SLPP leadership show up in Makeni this weekend then the battle for the party’s leadership (the highlight of the convention) will set the stage for a very nasty battle between Berewa and Charles Margai, his strongest opponent.Some analysts however believe the tussle between the two men will be so horrible that the delegates, the kingmakers, might just settle for a neutral force in the person of ex-ambassador John Leigh a contestant whose name does not arouse as much anger and bitterness from non-supporters as the other two.Other analysts predict great confusion and chaos at the convention leading to a non-event.In any case security in this northern bastion is expected to be huge as from today(Friday).

To his enemies, Margai is considered arrogant, power-hungry, unreliable and incompetent while his supporters say he is a nationalist,a patriot,incorruptible and dynamic.
Berewa’s friends say he is the man to continue the present president’s legacy and the legal genius who essentially ended the war by sending rebels and disloyal soldiers to their untimely graves when he was Attorney General. Such a man, they argue, should be allowed to be the next president to place the country on a sound security footing.Berewa haters however stress that he is highly corrupt, unhealthy (diabetic) and extremely incompetent laying the foundation for the creation of the Special Court which has incarcerated a former Interior Minister of his own government.He is also said to be despised by Western diplomats in the country.Most of these assertions, like most statements in Sierra Leone, however lack concrete evidence.
One thing that is however irrefutable is that, all things being equal, not even the muddy streets and torrential rains will stop the two top SLPP gladiators, Margai and Berewa, from tearing each other apart this weekend in Makeni.Their war cries and the sonorous clashes of their swords will defintely be heard a few miles away at Massam, the home town of the late RUF leader Foday Sankoh.

Photo: Charles Margai— ready for battle?

Photo credit: Cocorioko