Both the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) are working feverishly behind the scene to prepare themselves for the 2018 national elections.

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Ahead of the APC’s forthcoming national delegates’ conference that will elect its national officers and 2018 presidential flag-bearer, reports are that eight of its renowned stalwarts are set to resign in order to vie for the eye-watering position of flag-bearer.

The APC’s 2018 flag-bearer position is a very hot seat as evidenced by the fact that even when the party slammed a ban on politicking as its government struggled to put the depressed economy back on a sound footing and called on its membership to close ranks with the President to achieve the economic recovery plan, several strong party members in government both at home and abroad have been testing the muddy waters by holding family meetings to assess their chances.

One of them is the country’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Alimamy Petito Koroma, who hails from Mambolo in the Kambia District. He came into mainstream politics after a lengthy career as Secretary of the Council of Churches of Sierra Leone (CCSL). When Ernest Bai Koroma acceded to power in 2007, Alimamy Petito Koroma was appointed as Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure. Many credited, in part, President Koroma and the APC’s 2012 re-election to the impressive work done by his Ministry in the area of road infrastructure countrywide. However, Alimamy P. Koroma was relieved of his position shortly after President Koroma was re-elected in 2012. Thereafter, the President Koroma appointed him as the country’s top diplomat to the People’s Republic of China.

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However, Petito, who denied having resigned his position to contest for the APC flag-bearer position, and by extension, the country’s presidency, will have to resign as stipulated by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which states that all public officials that receive salaries from the National Consolidated Revenue Fund have to resign their positions a year to election if they want to contest for any elective position, including that of Member of Parliament, local council and the presidency.

With many other eminent and distinguished party members in the government also eager to join the APC flag-bearer race, other names have been mentioned that will also very soon resign their positions to prepare themselves for the race. These include the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara aka JFK, Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray, Central Bank Governor, Dr. Kelfala Marah, Chief Immigration Officer Kholifa Koroma, Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay, and Senior Special Adviser to the President, Hon. Alpha Khan. Out of the lot, at the end of the day, only one of them will be elected flag-bearer. When they resign, President Koroma will appoint other people to replace them as he still has a year and more on his second term before the proposed February 2018 national elections are held.

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It is no wonder why the APC flag-bearer position is a very hot ticket. Over the two terms that the party has been in power, its charming, amiable nationalistic Chairman and Leader has done a lot to keep the country united and in pursuit of development. Under his leadership, the APC has become an all-embracive national party drawing its membership from all the fourteen districts in the country. In the area of development nationwide, there are visible signs of tangible infrastructural constructions done by the APC government that were not there before. Accordingly, the APC party continues to enjoy nationwide popular support.

Signs that the party will be voted back to power in 2018 by a majority of the people, in spite of the financial and economic setback that its government has encountered in the past three years, is seen by the results of all the bye-elections that have been held since 2012. In all the elections done in the APC’s North-West strongholds, the opposition SLPP has not won one parliamentary or local council seats. Not only that, the APC has defeated it by very wide margins. On the other hand, in the elections conducted in the SLPP strongholds, APC has managed one or two victories and make huge gains in those areas where it lost.