Charles Margai

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Charles Francis Margai
Leader of the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC)
In office
2005 – present
Preceded by Position created
Sierra Leone Minister of Safety and Security
In office
2 November 1999 – 2 February 2001
Sierra Leone Minister of Internal Affairs and Local Government
In office
20 April 1998 – 2 November 1999
Personal details
Born Charlles Francis Kondo Margai
(1945-08-19) 19 August 1945 (age 71)
Bonthe, Bonthe District, Sierra Leone
Nationality Sierra Leonean
Political party People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC)
Spouse(s) Vivat Margai

Sir Albert Margai (Father)

Sir Milton Margai (Uncle)
Residence Bo, Sierra Leone
Alma mater

University of Dublin

Profession Lawyer

Charles Francis Kondo Margai (born 19 August 1945[1]) is a Sierra Leonean lawyer and politician. He is the leader of the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), the third major political party in Sierra Leone, after the big two, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the All People's Congress (APC). He was his party's candidate in the August 2007 presidential election, placing third with 10% of the vote.[2] He is the son of former Sierra Leone's Prime Minister Albert Margai and the nephew of Sierra Leone's first Prime Minister Milton Margai.

Early life and education[edit]

Charles Francis Kondo Margai was born on 19 August 1945 in the coastal town of Bonthe, Bonthe District in southern Sierra Leone. Margai hails from one of Sierra Leone's most powerful political dynasties. His father was Sir Albert Margai, the second Prime Minister of Sierra Leone.[1][3] He is also the nephew of Sierra Leone's first Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai.

Charles Margai attended St. Edward's Primary School in Freetown and then proceeded to the Christ the King College in Bo. He completed his secondary school education at Blackrock College in Co. Dublin, Ireland. Margai received a Bachelor of Arts in civil law in 1970 from the University of Dublin.

Law practice[edit]

Margai began working as a lawyer in 1971 as State Counsel in Freetown. He later opened his private law office in 1973 in Bo.

Political career[edit]

Sierra Leone People's Party[edit]

Margai was a member of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), which was co-founded in 1951 by his uncle Milton Margai. Both his father and his uncle had been leaders of the SLPP. In 1996 Charles Margai sought the nomination to stand as the party's candidate in the 1996 presidential elections. When he failed to secure the nomination he left the SLPP.[4]

National Unity Party[edit]

In the aftermath of Margai's failure to become the SLPP presidential candidate, he joined the National Unity Party and ran in the 1996 parliamentary election.[4]

Return to the Sierra Leone People's Party[edit]

He subsequently returned to the SLPP and in April 1998, Margai became Minister of Internal Affairs and Local Government following the restoration of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah;[5][6] From November 1999 he was Minister of Safety and Security.[7]

Infighting in the SLPP[edit]

On 6 January 2002, Kabbah requested that Margai clarify reports that the latter planned to seek the SLPP party leadership, which was held by Kabbah. Margai resigned as a minister on 8 January 2002 following a meeting with Kabbah, in which Kabbah expressed concern that the country might appear unstable and might therefore receive less aid from abroad.

On 9 January, Margai confirmed his plans to seek the leadership of the SLPP and its presidential nomination, describing himself as the best person for the position and saying that he had resigned from the cabinet "in the interest of good governance and for the people of this nation" due to "mistrust" between himself and Kabbah.[8]

On 8 March, however, the High Court ruled that he was not technically a member of the SLPP, preventing him from seeking the nomination, which was won by Kabbah.[4]

Margai was President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association from 2004 to 2005.[1]

Margai again unsuccessfully sought the SLPP presidential nomination at the party's national convention in Makeni on 3–4 September 2005; he received second place, with 34 votes, far behind Vice-President Solomon Berewa, who received 291 votes.[9]

People's Movement for Democratic Change[edit]

In early October 2005, he broke with the SLPP to form a new party, the People's Movement for Democratic Change. Margai faced difficulty in getting the PMDC officially registered, which he alleged was due to Kabbah deliberately delaying appointments to the Political Parties Commission which would enable the registration, thereby giving Berewa's campaign an advantage in time.

The PMDC was officially registered on 19 January 2006.


On 7 December 2005, Margai was arrested in connection with an incident on 18 November in which his supporters blocked a convoy that included Berewa, leading to accusations that Margai was behind it as an attempt to kill Berewa. Margai denied this, saying that his supporters had acted spontaneously.[10]

2007 Election[edit]

In the August 2007 presidential election, Margai took third place with 13.9% of the vote, behind Ernest Bai Koroma of the opposition All People's Congress (APC) and the SLPP's Berewa.[11][12] At his birthday party on 19 August, he said that he was backing the APC's Koroma for the second round of the election.[13] On 24 August, he said that the PMDC would campaign together with the APC for the second round. He also said that the PMDC's constitution would not allow him to join a government led by the APC if Koroma won the election.[14]