February 5, 2018 By Joseph S. Margai
Coalition of Civil Society and Human Rights Activists-Sierra Leone (CCSHRA-SL), a group of civil society organisations, has expressed dismay over what they referred to as the attitude of officials of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) who have abandoned their posts in order to engage in political campaigns.
The CSOs made the statement in a press release dated 1st February, 2018 and signed by the coalition’s chairman, Charles Mambu.
“It is wrong for MDAs to leave their posts because service provisions which continue to be supported by development partners and government of Sierra Leone cannot be abandoned for election campaigns,” the coalition members stated in the release.
The release went further to state that political parties have been engaged in full scale campaigns long before the time allowed by law, noting that those unofficial campaign periods were characterised by use of abusive languages, violence, and unnecessary attacks on the personality of opponents.
The CSOs observed that political party supporters continue to exhibit intolerance and that there has been an increase in the number of politicians moving from one political party to another.
The CSOs also condemned all forms of violence against citizens and residents of Sierra Leone before, during and after the elections.
“As we approach the official period for campaigns and the March 7, 2018 elections, we are urging that political parties must ensure the use of clean and decent languages at all times of the election processes/periods by their supporters,” the release stated.
They also lamented the closed space for women’s participation. “In spite of all the campaigns and promises made by politicians, political parties woefully failed to award party symbols to suitable and qualified women,” the release noted.
The CSOs called on political parties to centre their campaign messages on issues that will reduce poverty in the country, promote security and peaceful electoral environment and focused on development not on personality campaign.
They noted that the unity, peace and security of the country must be supreme above all other interests including the interest of political parties.
The coalition members called on moral guarantors of the Lome Peace Accord – the United Nations, ECOWAS, African Union, and International Criminal Court (ICC) – to quickly send observers to Sierra Leone, document any violent events and abuse of human and people’s rights before, during and after the election.