A crucial Supreme Court hearing to determine if the National Grand Coalition (NGC) party’s candidate is eligible to run in Sierra Leone’s March 7 presidential election was postponed again Thursday, with the matter now to be taken up next week.
Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella has survived two previous court challenges to his candidacy, brought by members or supporters of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party that’s backing Samura Kamara as President Ernest Bai Koroma steps down. Koroma has led the crisis-battered Sierra Leone since 2007.
The filings claim that Yumkella is a dual citizen of Sierra Leone and therefore ineligible to contest; the opposition further claims that Yumkella, a former director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the former CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, failed to resign from a government post before the required deadline for eligibility in the 2018 elections, which are for a full slate of offices.
Yumkella sought to dispel the citizenship rumors back in January. “I decided that in the interest of the public there is a need to clear the air and set the record straight. It is a fact that I have had dual nationality,” he said during a public appearance in Freetown, acknowledging his United States passport.
“I renounced my U.S. citizenship to ensure that I fully qualify to run for parliament on behalf of the people of Samu, and to contest for the position of President of the Republic of Sierra Leone,” he added.
Despite the last-ditch legal effort, Yumkella has momentum and his supporters thronged the streets during a final rally on Tuesday. The NGC represents an alternative to both the APC and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) although the provisional list from the National Election Commission includes 16 political parties and their candidates.
Image: Yumkella campaign/NGC