I am delighted that my first engagement of the New Year was to meet a potential Party Flag Bearer of Sierra Leone.
Dr Alpha Wurie is competing in a primary to be the candidate for President of the centre-right Sierra Leone People’s Party which was founded in 1951 and led Sierra Leone to independence on 27th April 1961.
I was told on New Year’s Eve that Dr Wurie was spending New Year with family on St Mary’s Island in my constituency and I was honoured to be invited round the next day to meet him, family members and supporters.
Dr Wurie’s sister has worked at Medway hospital and he himself has connections in the UK, having graduated from Brunel University and been a visiting fellow at the School of Science, Greenwich University with its campus in Medway.
After the short New Year break Dr Wurie is heading back to Sierra Leone next week to campaign through to a vote of around 700 delegates of his party, who will choose their candidate for President on 5th March. The general election will then take place in 2012.
Britain has of course been closely and positively involved in Sierra Leone in recent years and we all wish Sierra Leone well for free and fair elections. Mr Wurie is campaigning for “Opportunity for Life” and is building on his decade-long record as Minister for Education under President Kabbah. I was fascinated to hear how he intended to extend some of the Health, Education and Infrastructural facilities available in towns into the rural areas of Sierra Leone and instil a stronger culture of respect.
My local Conservative Association has been delighted to welcome so many Africans who have recently moved into the Rochester and Strood area. It is also a real benefit for me as the MP to make links with leading politicians in other countries and hear about their campaigning. I certainly hope to stay in touch with Alpha Wurie and will be following his campaign with great interest.