It was a rainy Saturday and despite treacherous driving conditions, a cross section of the members of the APC–NA Â from Boston, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania among other states made their way to Lanham, Maryland to clear the dark clouds that hung over their branch. (Photo: Osman Conteh addresses peace summit)
There was a mixture of apprehension as some wondered whether the main players would show up. As they came one by one and sometimes in groups, the feeling of happiness (if any) was subdued partly because no one was certain about the outcome of the meeting. The uncertainty was evident as two members from the opposing factions began confronting each other but for the quick response offered by other members, what could have turned out to be an ugly scene was averted.
As calm and normalcy returned and as representatives of the seven suspended chapters, Ambassador Stevens and few members of the interim executive made their way around offering handshakes, it was clear all had come together with only one motive; for the sake of the party, peace must be established so that together, they can work as a united team with the party secretariat in Freetown to meet the aims and objectives of the party and work earnestly towards the development agenda that has been set forth by the current governing party headed by President Ernest Bai Koroma of the All peoples Congress.
Realizing that during his last trip to New York to attend the 64th Plenary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Koroma did not only express his outright disgust as events unfolded in the APC-NA branch and did not meet with those he would normally see, it was clear members understood his simple message that “”If your goal is to see the party flourish and you have no hidden agenda, then you must work for unity in the party.” And work for unity they did until the desired outcome of reconciliation and forging a way forward to confront the agenda that must be accomplished for the people of Sierra Leone was arrived at.
Converging at his Lanham, Maryland residence, host and peacemaker Alhaji Al Hajj Serray Dumbuya, had only one intention, he wanted all members to heed President Koroma’s call for party unity and for the party’s interest to be put above all else.Â That was why quiet and unassuming as he is, through his persistent calls and conversations with each side voicing their strongly held opinions and conditions for peace, he stepped in, worked behind the scenes to bring all involved to the table even when it means putting his money where his mouth is. Without a doubt, with the co-operation of the two factions, his efforts paid off with the resolution of the crisis that had threatened to destroy the North American arm of the APC.
In an effort to hear the various views that led to the crisis, members made their remarks passionately defending their positions, amidst thunderous applause and at times deafening silence. Thanks to Sekou Dauda Bangura of New Jersey who used his moderating skills to not only conduct a fair and balanced meeting but held every participant to task when the guidelines were not adhered to. Despite his best efforts he was still labelled as unfair. That the atmosphere was punctuated with laughter from both sides when it seemed impossible a few weeks ago underscored party comrades desire to see the issues that had divided them a thing of the past.
Having had the opportunity to share their opinions and grievances, the opposing parties acknowledged that they all seek the interest of the party and would work with each other in a transparent and respectful manner to advance the agenda that has been set forth. This includes the following:
- Adhere to the APC-NA byelaws and the party’s constitution
- Respect for different opinions and a pledge to respect the various constituents that make up the APC-NA branch
- Reinstate the seven suspended chapters effective immediately
- The interim executive must work with all so that modalities are put in place for the conduct of free and fair elections taking into consideration the directives issued by president Koroma.
- Elect an executive that is truly representative of North America and finalized plans for the location of the pending convention.
- Submit records that validate Georgia’s right to hosting the next convention
- Every chapter submit what is required of them for the smooth conduct of the convention where applicable
- Party issues must always be settled internally
The common message that ran through the various presentations was that, no one harboured any grudge against any party comrade. In fact, if anything it was a blessing that they have gather under the auspices of Alhaji Dumbuya and therefore supported his initiative for bringing all parties to the negotiating table. The time for party fighting is over and all should go back to their respective chapters to work harder and do the things that will enable the APC party to be electable in 2012.
Notwithstanding the civility and peace that had been achieved, Ambassador Bockarie readily informed all that it was important for party comrades know that all his actions were the result of written directives from the party secretariat in Freetown. That is why “I don’t take any directives instructed via phone calls because I want to be able to show proof for my actions;” he stressed. Having spent 42 years as a member of the APC, he proudly shared with all that” he was born APC, will die as an APC member and is an APC Ambassador” calling on the press to quote him verbatim.
For Brima Turay, despite all the party’s troubles and name calling that he has endured, his message was simple and straight forward: “I am not a rebel and I am not arrogant. I stand for what I believe is right for the APC, the common folks and what is right for the people of Sierra Leone. I stand for fair play and respect for rules and regulations’” he strongly mentioned.
In his capacity as interim chairman of the suspended chapters, Alhassan Aziz Turay reiterated how important it is for party members to trust each other and work for that which truly matters because in the end it is about the APC. Whilst outlining the various violations committed by the interim executive, he was hopeful that oneness had come back to the party.
As Patrick Ojong and Kadie Sesay made their remarks, the call for unity was overwhelmingly clear. Members were clearly impressed with the various experiences shared by party comrades who have seen the APC evolved over the years. Party comrades also expressed gratitude for the words of wisdom that Deputy US Ambassador. He implored all to respect each other and learn to disagree without being divisive. Osman Conteh, ex-chairman acknowledged the presence of a former member of the APC-NA branch as he made his remarks to all present.
As they “live forever” and have seen their “struggles” play out in the public domain and settled t internally, with the successful peace summit, they pledged as children of APC to “stand firm” shine and always move forward in “their aims and dreams and in the struggles of their party, APC. Oh yes, they proclaimed! Oh yes, they embraced and affirmed their belief in the party and in the leadership of President Koroma! They believe that there is indeed “victory” for them and the people of Sierra Leone.
Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jnr.,