The debate over the presidential term limit has caused a rift among Sierra Leone’s musicians, with two groups claiming to represent the industry coming up from opposing points of the matter.
After last week’s public declaration by a musicians’ association called All Stars, which comprises mainly young artists, endorsing calls for President Ernest Koroma to be allowed to remain in office, on Wednesday the Sierra Leone Musicians Union (SLMU) issued a statement distancing itself from that position.
The SLMU said while it respected freedom of expression, it expected that to be in line with the constitution.
The campaign to have Koroma remain in office first began shortly after the 2012 elections. Due to strong opposition it has metamorphosed from an attempt to change the constitution to allow him re-run, to what was called extra time and now ‘More Time’.
The ‘More Time’ campaigners say some years should be added to the president’s term to compensate him for lost time caused by the interruption of the Ebola epidemic; others say having worked so hard for the country the President need some ‘reward’ in the form of few years of term extension.
Milton Coker, President of All Stars, said in his statement last week that as musicians they believe only Koroma had what it takes to promote their interest. He claimed that he was speaking for 98 per cent of musicians in the country.
The SLMU statement signed jointly by their chairman and Secretary General, said they had no hand in politics.
“The Sierra Leone Musicians Union (SLMU) completely disassociates itself from any campaign with regards to ‘More Time’ and would like to make it abundantly clear that the union is apolitical and non-partisan…,” a statement signed by the union’s Secretary General, Emryes Savage, and its Chairman, Christopher Alie Conteh, partly reads.
It also disputed claims by the president of All Stars that they are the umbrella body for musicians in the country