From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

UNPP Convention in Sierra Leone declared as a big hoax
By Abu Bakarr Munu
Jun 20, 2006, 22:58

Scores of members of the United National People’s Party (UNPP) of Sierra Leone, including their legitimate National Leader, Dr. John Karefa Smart, yesterday contacted Awareness Times to declare last Saturday’s so-called UNPP Convention as illegal, invalid, null and void. In an exclusive telephone interview with Awareness Times from the United States of America, the Honourable Leader, Dr. Karefa Smart expressed surprise at the news of a Convention actually being held. 

"I heard with great surprise about a UNPP Convention being held and a Leader being elected. I want to state most categorically to the people of Sierra Leone that I am not aware of any such Convention. It is a hoax that has been perpetuated upon the people of Sierra Leone." Dr. Karefa Smart stated.

The erudite politician who just celebrated his 91st birthday last week was very alert and vibrant over the telephone and it was clear that he was very much confident of what he was saying.

Honourable Dr. John Karefa-Smart: A 91 year old very vibrant and alert living political icon of legendary proportions

"I am not against the UNPP electing a successor to myself. However, it has to be done properly according to the UNPP Consitution. Until a properly constituted Convention is held, I remain the National Leader and Head of the United National People’s Party." Dr. Karefa Smart said.

The Honourable Leader’s words have been re-echoed locally by Haja Memunatu Conteh who is the rightful Acting Leader of the UNPP in the absence of Dr. John Karefa Smart from Sierra Leone.

Haja Memunatu Conteh who also doubles as the party’s Chairlady for the Western Area, reacted vehemently yesterday to the holding of last weekend’s delegates conference said have been held by the UNPP, referring to it as "unconstitutional and lacked the basis" characteristic of the United National People’s Party.

Haja Memunatu Conteh therefore said the conference which was held at the Atlantic Hall of the National Stadium and all that was supposedly agreed on as resolutions including the election of a new leader are null and void.

Speaking to Awareness Times at her No. 15 Lumley Street shop, the Interim UNPP Leader, who was the running mate to Dr. John Karefa Smart in 2002, maintained categorically that the party’s constitution has laid down rules and regulations for the convening of a delegates conference, which she stated is different from the "haphazard and reckless manner in which this so-called conference was held,"

Haja Memunatu Conteh quoted Chapter 6(1) (1) of the UNPP Constitution which she maintained clearly stipulates who is responsible for convening such an august conference of the party. She went on to assert that Dr. John Kerefa Smart is still the legitimate leader of the UNPP.

According to Haja Memunatu Conteh, she has received confirmation from Dr. John Karefa Smart that he neither sanctioned nor has any knowledge of the said convention.

Haja Memunatu Conteh told of how they first learned of moves "by certain unscrupulous people" that were intending to hold a convention, stating that a press release was issued out denouncing the move. "It is therefore a huge surprise that those elements could muster the gut to go ahead to hold a delegates conference without legal authority," she remarked.

Asked by Awareness Times what she knew about the two contestants, she said, Mohamed Ben Kamara is the party’s UK branch chairman while Abdul Kady Karim is an ordinary member based in the diaspora. She explained that what the organizers did was that they called one, Mr. Osman B. Conteh and gave him the post of working committee chairman, which she said is unconstitutional.

It is this working committee that convened the conference that elected this executive, excluding even the legitimate leader, Dr. John Karefa-Smart from participating or making his input.

According to Haja Memunatu, the letter sent by the organisers was also misleading.

"It states that it is the fourth convention they are having. I want to state here that it is the third convention that is pending and that anybody that is claiming to have done the fourth is exposing that he cannot be a UNPP member since he does not even know how many conventions have been legally held by the Party." She said.

She disclosed to Awareness Times that the UNPP is presently putting legal documents together to take legal action against all of those involved in convening the illegal conference.

Meanwhile, very reliable UNPP sources have intimated Awareness Times that during a social visit to Dr. Karefa Smart at his home in the United States by the organisers of last weekend’s convention, they recorded the content of the friendly conversation they had with Dr. John Karefa Smart and segments of the content of this conversation is what was played out to UNPP supporters as evidence of the UNPP Leader’s backing of the hoaxed Convention.

Some of the UNPP supporters who took part in last weekend convention have all expressed utter dismay to this newspaper about the level of deceit used to get them to take part in the fake Convention.

"Had it not been for me hearing the voice of my Leader discussing national issues with some of the organisers, I would never have given a second thought to the people who invited me to that fake convention." An elderly lady informed Awareness Times.

Upto press time last night, the telephones at this newspaper were still ringing with UNPP supporters calling to lambast the organisers of last weekend’s Convention.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.