Zainab Bangura joins race for Sierra Leone presidency

Zainab Bangura is seeking to contest in the Sierra Leone's presidential race. PHOTO | BBC 

Former United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, has declared her intention to seek Sierra Leone’s top political seat through the ruling party.

Ms Bangura said Friday she will be contesting to be the flagbearer of the All People’s Congress (APC) party for the elections slated for next year.

“After a lot of consultations and consideration, I have made the decision to vie for the presidency under the APC,” she said during a radio breakfast show in Freetown.

Ms Bangura, the only female candidate, joins a growing list of party members vying to fly APC’s flag in the March 7, 2018 polls after President Ernest Bai Koroma’s second term ends. Sierra Leone’s Constitution provides for two five-year terms limit for the president.

More than 20 people have expressed interest to succeed Mr Koroma from his party alone.

"I am not contesting because I am a woman. I am contesting because I believe that I have the skills it takes to be president," she said.

The announcement brings an end to speculation over her political future after her tenure at the UN.

The outspoken activist-cum-politician has over 30 years of experience in public service and civil society.

As an activist, Ms Bangura, in 1996, co-founded the Campaign for Good Governance, which is one of the most respected civil society organisations in the country.

She has also served in President Koroma's administration as Minister of Foreign Affairs and later in charge of the Health docket before joining the UN in 2012.

Ms Bangura first contested the presidency in 2002 through her Movement for Progress party, only garnering less that one per cent of the vote. The party, for which she was a co-founder, also failed to clinch any parliamentary seat.

On Friday, she said her experience dealing with both bad and good leaders across the world as the UN envoy has prepared her better for the country’s top office now.

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