…Says flag-bearers declarations threaten peace
October 16, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The National Election Watch (NEW) has strongly condemned political violence of any form and called on political parties to adhere to zero tolerance on political violence.
The statement by NEW comes in the wake of political violence that ensued in Freetown, especially around the headquarters of the ruling All People’s Congress, where supporters of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party and the APC clashed, resulting to injuries of some innocent people.
A reporter of The Exclusive Newspaper, Musa Sesay, was also stabbed by alleged thugs in green, the SLPP colour, along Howe Street on the day Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio launched his bid to become flag-bearer of the main opposition party.
The political violence of last Wednesday (October 11, 2017) was seen by many observers as an indication that political activities would be marred by violence if the security forces fail to put measures in place to ensure sanity.
A press release from NEW stated that the alleged clashes by supporters of the SLPP and APC demonstrate high-levels of political intolerance and incivility in the political space.
NEW also expressed grave concern that events organised by potential political party flag-bearers to declare their intention to run for the highest office in the land are threatening peace.
“We therefore condemn these acts and call on all political parties to condemn political violence and adhere to a Zero Tolerance of all forms of political violence in the March 7th 2018 Elections. NEW wish to emphatically state that our political space will not tolerate this spate of political violence occurring, especially when the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has not declared campaign period,” the release stated.
While expressing firm belief that the SLPP must take responsibility for the behaviour of their supporters, the civil society elections body urged the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) to establish clear regulations on political parties’ events, especially those dealing with candidates’ declaration.
NEW called on the Office of the National Security (ONS) and the security sector, NEC, PPRC, and civil society organisations to organise a national conference to address these emerging issues in a bid to ensure a peaceful March 7, 2018 elections.
“All potential political flag-bearers must sign a declaration that adheres to a zero tolerance on political violence and must be professionally implemented by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) without fear or favour,” urged NEW.