Will Maada Bio End Well With Vice President Juldeh Jalloh?
Office of the Chief Minister, a brainchild of President Julius Maada Bio, has rendered Office of the Vice President docile and dormant. The Chief Minister is by all indications more active and popular than the Vice President. The Chief Minister supervises all ministers of government.
He approves strategic policies in ministries, and the ministers are directly responsible and answerable to him. Office of the Chief Minister is a novelty in Sierra Leone’s politics. The office gives Bio’s government the looks of a parliamentary democracy , a political system where a head of state is different from a head government.
Sierra Leone’s government is based on the British model. The queen is the ceremonial Head of State while the Prime Minister is Head of Government. In Sierra Leone today, the President is Head of State while the Chief Minister is Head of Government.
This current political arrangement has generated questions of not only whether it is President Bio that rules but also the place of the Vice President. Sierra Leone’s Constitution provides that the Vice President is the principal assistant to the President.
But, the creation of the Chief Minister’s Office has watered down the vitality and popularity of the Vice President office.
Currently, the Vice President enjoys powers created only by the constitution such as Chairman of Police Council and second most important person in the Defence Council. The Police and the Defence Councils are the highest decision making bodies for the police and the army respectively. These powers cannot be exercised by a minister.
Owing to the current politics, the debate continues as to whether President Bio will row the boat to a safe landing with his Vice President. Questions about the relationship of the President and Vice President in the end are relevant in that Sierra Leone has a long history of Presidents not ending well with their Vice Presidents.
Such history is recent, and it started off with President Siaka Probyn Stevens and his Vice President, Sorie Ibrahim Koroma popularly known as S. I. After close to two decades in governance, President Stevens and Vice President S. I. Koroma did not end well.
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The former deprived the latter of becoming President. Instead of paving the way for a S. I. Koroma presidency, Siaka Stevens tactically stage-managed the succession of a weak and malleable army general, Joseph Saidu Momoh. This did not go down well with S. I. Koroma who hoped to succeed the President after years of a committed and faithful service.
However, the Vice President retired to his hometown of PortLoko after it was clear that he did not enjoy the support APC (All People’s Congress)’s rank and file. Stevens successor, J. S. Momoh also did not end well with his Vice President, Francis Minah. Minah who involved in a coup against former President Momoh faced the gallows in 1987.
His death at the Pa Demba Road main correctional centre marked the end of Minah’s political existence. Former military leader, Captain Valentine Strasser who came to power in 1992 in a coup d’etat fell out with his deputy, Solomon Musa. Musa was replaced by current President Julius Maada Bio. Strasser also fell out with his deputy, Bio.
But, in the second fall out, Captain Stressar was on the receiving end.
He was toppled by Bio in a palace coup in 1996. In the same year, President Ahmed Tejan appeared on the stage with his Vice President, Albert Joe Demby. Demby did not return with Pa Kabba in 2002 as the two fell out. Demby was replaced by Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa.
President Kabba also fell out with Berewa in the 2007 elections. The transition of power from SLPP to APC was highly suspected to have been stage-managed by President Kabba. This suspicion made Berewa not to see eye-on-eye with Pa Kabba till death. 2007 election results brought President Ernest Bai Koroma and Vice President Chief Sam Sumana.
The two fell out in 2015 without a watertight explanation. Many APC politicians said gossips ruined the relationship between the two personalities. When Chief Sam went away, Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh took over as Vice President. Foh also fell out with President Koroma after the handpick of Dr Samura Kamara as flag-bearer in the 2018 elections.
Like S.I. Koroma, Victor Foh thought it fit that he was the fit person to succeed President Koroma after many years of committed service. Victor Foh is no longer a member of APC. Considering the lengthy history of the fall-out between Presidents and Vice Presidents and the marginalization of Juldeh Jalloh, the question is, will Bio end well with his Vice President.