The National Grand Coalition (NGC) Chairman, Jasmed Suma, has attributed the party’s defeat in the 2018 and 2023 elections to a combination of internal issues and the country’s Proportional Representation (PR) system.
Speaking in an interview at the African Young Voices (AYV), Suma claimed misuse of party funds hampered their 2018 campaign. He also alleged that funds allocated to NGC supporters in Kenema District were diverted to support the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
While acknowledging financial resources were available for the NGC campaign in 2018, Suma lamented poor financial management and insufficient time for strategic planning. He attributed their inability to contest the 2023 elections to a lack of funds, highlighting the unavailability of resources to recruit polling agents, crucial for election monitoring.
“Our budget [in 2023] was about Le6.5 million and we had less than $500.000 so there was no way we were able to get over 12 to 15.000 polling agents across the entire country. Each one paid around $25 to $50,” said the Chairman.
Suma also criticized the PR system, alleging that it was designed to favor established parties. He pointed out that the NGC opposed the system’s implementation due to the high threshold (around 12-15%) required to secure parliamentary seats.
“The PR System was exclusively set to eliminate the other political parties and some of us saw that. We made statements against it. We predicted against it but unfortunately the leader of our party was aligned with it,” he said.
He went on to say that most PR Systems in other countries are less than 5% and that there is about 12 and more per cent that remains to be accounted for.
Regarding the NGC’s alliance with the SLPP, Suma referenced historical agreements between past presidents and opposition parties. He contrasted these past commitments, honored by previous leaders, with the current situation, implying a lack of integrity from certain parties.
“There was an agreement between President Tejan Kabbah and PDP’s Thaimu Bangura which was a gentleman’s agreement that nobody heard about. President Kabbah was a gentleman with integrity and so he honored the agreement. President Ernest Koroma also honored PMDC’s agreement.
“When agreements are made the integrity of each signatory to that agreement is on the line. There are some who value that integrity. There are others who do not value that integrity and that is what prevails in our own situation” he said.