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Thoughts on mitigation of electoral political violence in Sierra Leone

19 April 2023 at 22:31 | 738 views

Thoughts on mitigation of electoral political violennce during the upcoming 2023 elections in Sierra Leone

By Kortor Kamara, USA

It is worth noting that the greatest short term risk to the consolidation of peace in the country remains the administration and conduct of the upcoming 2023 parliamentary and presidential elections.

It is thus in this regard, that the National Electoral Commission (NEC), CSOs and the broader international community’s attention and focus must be placed squarely on the electoral administration institutions - the NEC and PPRC – to ensure articulation and implementation of measures and regulations designed to mitigate and forestall the age-old issue of electoral political violence and intimidation.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) must be proactive and immediately institute regulations designed to change the entrenched outdated campaigning methods of political parties.

Firstly, the NEC must proscribe the practice of political party rallies on public streets both from a public safety perspective and its irrelevance in modern electioneering practices.

Specifically, the practice of mobs of party supporters parading down streets of major cities and towns, dancing and provoking opponents with incendiary songs must be banned and relegated to the dustbin of our political history.

For an objective analysis of this practice has shown that its real purpose has only been to serve as the fuse leading to violence during elections. There is actually no electoral redeemable value to such public processions and displays, which quite frankly very few, if any people are swayed by, in deciding which party or candidate to vote for at elections.

Secondly, political party rallies should be mandated and encouraged to be held in enclosed areas, such as stadiums, court barrays, town centers and halls and members made to peaceably disperse after such gatherings.

Thirdly, the proliferation of community radio stations throughout the country, independent of government and political party dictates, provides a mass media platform and vehicle for elections campaigning.

The elections administration institutions should therefore encourage the shift away from the streets to the radio stations where local, constituency and national issues can be addressed and communicated to the electorate.

Fourthly, it is estimated that with an eighty percent penetration rate of mobile phones among the electorate, the 2023 elections stands to usher in Sierra Leone’s first mass social media digital elections. Political analysts contemplate that the proliferation of Facebook (FB), WhatsApp, Tic Tok and other similar social media platforms, among Sierra Leoneans both at home and in the diaspora affords the political parties an avenue to connect with the overwhelming youth population.

( The above excerpt was initially published by Patriotic Vanguard in 2011, prior to the 2012 elections, but the issues still remain unaddressed as we head into the 2023 elections cycle ).