Elections in the air.

Author:Mac-Johnson, Rod
Position:Sierra Leone - Brief Article

The brutal 10-year rebel war may be over, but leadership squabbles may yet come to haunt the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections fixed for 14 May.

Three months to the elections, only one of the country's 22 political parties, the ruling SLPP, has held its party convention and published its election manifesto.

"It seems as if the politicians want to take us for granted again. But this time they will have a shock of their lives," says Marium Conteh of "50-50", the Freetown-based NGO that advocates equal political representation for women.

The elections should have been held last year but the general insecurity in the country prevented them from happening. But now, with more than 47,000 fighters disarmed and some 14,300 weapons collected as part of the ceasefire agreement, the path is cleared for the elections to be held.

Until now, it was a foregone conclusion that the incumbent, president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, would be nominated by the SLPP to stand for re-election. But now Kabbah faces a challenge from within the party, in the person of the former internal affairs and security minister, Charles Margai, who quit his job to challenge his former boss.

The All People's Congress (APC) which ruled the country for nearly three decades before being overthrown in a military coup in 1992, is also in the throes of a leadership contest. At the last count, seven candidates were vying for the APC's top job.

The country's newest political force is the Revolutionary United Front Party...

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