A leading presidential hopeful for the ticket of the main opposition party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), has withdrawn his candidature.Dr Kandeh Yumkella, a former UN official, said Monday he will now be running on the ticket of a coalition of unnamed political parties.
Yumkella’s decision was announced at a press conference in Freetown organized by the KKY Movement, the group backing Yumkella’s bid for the presidency of Sierra Leone.
Yumkella was battling with former head of state (rtd) Brigadier Julius Maada Bio for the SLPP ticket, alongside more than a dozen other aspiring SLPP candidates, and the rivalry between the two most prominent aspirants has been so tense that it threatened to divide the party.
Yumkella and his supporters blame Mr Bio for the standoff, an accusation he repeated at Monday’s press conference.
“As things are today, Democracy has been choked, suffocated, stifled and rendered meaningless in the SLPP and to some extent in our nation,” he said in the prepared speech distributed to the media.
Yumkella was until March 2015 a UN under secretary-general and special representative for Sustainable Energy for All. Before that he was the director general of the United Nations Industrial Development
His supporters say he is the best candidate to take Sierra Leone from its current state, given his vast international experience.
While his supporters defended his decision to leave the SLPP, supporters of his opponent Bio described it as ‘good riddance.’