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Monday, September 20, 2021

Jimmy Batilo: Is he the man for the Job

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SLPP dominated politics in Sierra Leone in the years following World War II. In 1955 and 1956, riots occurred in Sierra Leone, originally sparked by the artisan union’s strike over pay; further unrest followed strikes by transport workers. These events grew animosity between the SLPP and Krio parties, especially the Cyril Rogers-Wright led United Sierra Leone Progressive Party, established in 1954. The SLPP positioned itself as “the countryman’s party,” and garnered the support of tribal chiefs.

After elections in 1957, Milton Margai bowed to behind-the-scenes pressure and stepped down from SLPP leadership, replaced by his brother Albert Margai. However, in 1958, Albert Margai and Siaka Stevens launched a new party, the People’s National Party (PNP), which aimed for greater African involvement in the British colonial government. With the independence of Ghana in 1957, the PNP sought the support of the educated elite to lead a transition to independence. Stevens would later leave the party to form the northern-supported All Peoples Congress. Upon independence in 1961, Milton Margai became Prime Minister, and the SLPP became the ruling party. The SLPP, along with almost all Sierra Leonean political parties, signed the constitution at the London constitutional conference; the APC was the notable exception. This unity did not extend to national politics, as opposing politicians often faced detainment under SLPP rule.

SLPP dominated politics in Sierra Leone in the years following World War II. In 1955 and 1956, riots occurred in Sierra Leone, originally sparked by the artisan union’s strike over pay; further unrest followed strikes by transport workers. These events grew animosity between the SLPP and Krio parties, especially the Cyril Rogers-Wright led United Sierra Leone Progressive Party, established in 1954. The SLPP positioned itself as “the countryman’s party,” and garnered the support of tribal chiefs.

After elections in 1957, Milton Margai bowed to behind-the-scenes pressure and stepped down from SLPP leadership, replaced by his brother Albert Margai. However, in 1958, Albert Margai and Siaka Stevens launched a new party, the People’s National Party (PNP), which aimed for greater African involvement in the British colonial government. With the independence of Ghana in 1957, the PNP sought the support of the educated elite to lead a transition to independence. Stevens would later leave the party to form the northern-supported All Peoples Congress. Upon independence in 1961, Milton Margai became Prime Minister, and the SLPP became the ruling party. The SLPP, along with almost all Sierra Leonean political parties, signed the constitution at the London constitutional conference; the APC was the notable exception. This unity did not extend to national politics, as opposing politicians often faced detainment under SLPP rule.

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