Sierra Leone
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Charles Margai promises to disrupt SLPP votes in Southeast

Charles Margai sandwiched by APC stakeholders

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

“The victory of APC highly depends on the votes they will get in the South-East because the North and Western area is a sure ball, therefore, I Francis Bodo Margai will deliver the required votes from the South-East that will take the APC back to governance.”

Ahead of the June 24 multi-tier elections, veteran Lawyer and seasoned politician, Charles Margai, the founder and leader of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), has declared his support for Sierra Leone’s main opposition party, the All People’s Congress (APC).

His official declaration came shortly after rumours that he had declared for the APC, a rumour which he denied outright. Meanwhile, political defection is never a novelty in Sierra Leone’s political environment therefore, what matters most is who does it and at what time.  

Charles Francis Margai is certainly a household  name in Sierra Leone and the political history of this nation could not be completed without mentioning the Margai’s. Both Charles Margai’s uncle and father had respectively served as first and second Prime Minister of this country and Charles Francis Margai has unarguable being the most successful heir of the Margai brothers.

Margai, who previously ran as the PMDC presidential candidate in the 2007 election and secured third place with slightly above 10% of the vote, had received about 3% of the votes in both the 2012 and 2018 Sierra Leone presidential elections. Margai’s political journey has been marked by cartwheels.

In 2018, shortly after being appointed as Attorney General and Minister of Justice President Bio dismissed Margai without providing an official reason, and he was replaced by Dr. Pricilla A. Schwartz.

With a tenure of less than two months, Margai became the shortest-serving Attorney General and Minister of Justice in Sierra Leone’s history.  

Margai’s defection to the APC in 2007 was to a large extent responsible for the victory of the party which was in opposition during that election. He was able to galvanize about 25% of the total votes from the South-East to the APC.

Despite his political fortunes and misfortunes in his political career, Margai  still holds a stake in the politics of the country.

While officially declaring for the APC in their Old Rail-Way Line Head office in Brookfields, Freetown, Margai said “2023, we have decided that the APC will take back the mantle of governance. After this meeting, me and my younger brother, Dr. Samura will meet President Koroma to brief him about latest happenings in the party so that he will fully participate in the fight to return the party to power.

He continued by appealing to all Apcians to put aside all their differences through a reconciliation committee.

Margai described himself as the game changer who never compromises “In 2007 I supported the APC and the won, in 2018 when I supported President Bio he won; now I am here again to give back the power to the APC. The SLPP are so desperate that they don’t mind plunging this country into violence.

Margai’s political affiliations have shifted over the years. He was initially a member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), co-founded by his uncle, Milton Margai, in 1951.

After failing to secure the SLPP nomination for the 1996 presidential elections, he left the party and joined the National Unity Party, running in the subsequent parliamentary election. Margai later returned to the SLPP and served as Minister of Internal Affairs and Local Government in 1998, followed by a role as Minister of Safety and Security from 1999.

In 2002, Margai announced his intention to seek the leadership of the SLPP and its presidential nomination but was prevented from doing so by a High Court ruling, which deemed him technically not a member of the party. Subsequently, in 2005, he formed the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) after breaking ties with the SLPP. Although the registration of the PMDC faced challenges, it was officially registered on January 19, 2006.

During the 2007 presidential election, Margai ran as the PMDC’s presidential candidate, securing third place with 13.9% of the vote. Following the first round, he pledged his support to Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC and campaigned jointly with the party, leading to the APC’s victory in the second round of the election.

For the upcoming general elections scheduled for June 24, Margai has been temporarily cleared as one of the 13 presidential candidates. His running mate is Tony Bob Hindolo Songa.

Margai’s decision to align with the APC could have significant implications for the political landscape of Sierra Leone as the country approaches the crucial electoral period.

Margai defected on the same day with Alhaji Bai Shebora Sumanoh Kapen-III, a former chairman and Leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party who said he is marveled by the political system of the APC and vow to work with other members of the APC to win the upcoming general elections come June 24 this year.