January 8, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Barely two months ahead of crunch multitier elections on March 7, head of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) has urged Paramount Chiefs and traditional leaders across the country to maintain neutrality throughout the electioneering process.
Justice (retired) Patrick O. Hamilton was speaking last Friday at a dialogue conference organised by the PPRC in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme aimed at engaging paramount chiefs and key election stakeholders on the roadmap for a free, fair and credible elections.
The PPRC boss said chiefs were very crucial to good governance in the country as they control the greater part of the country.
“Traditional leaders and chiefs should be law abiding, respect the rule of law and be tolerant. They should create a level playing field for all political parties and stay neutral,” he urged.
Justice Hamilton maintained that traditional leaders are held in high esteem as their subjects listen to them more, adding that that is why they thought of engaging the latter so that they could go back and preach peace to their subjects.
Speaking on behalf of head of National Electoral Commission (NEC) NfA Ali Conteh, Abu Turay said the dialogue forum was a step in the right direction, noting that NEC was committed to conducting free and fair elections in March 2018.
The Executive Assistant to the NEC boss said that the importance of chiefs cannot be over-emphasised to the development of any society.
‘’I urged chiefs and traditional leaders to be tolerant and to accommodate all political parties in their various communities,” he said.
He assured of the commission’s support to the PPRC and praised them for organising the forum.
Chairman Integrated Election Security Planning Committee, Languba Kellie, asserted that paramount chiefs are expected to provide strong leadership within their communities, promote peace and harmony and to ensure justice through conflict prevention and mediation.
‘’Cognisance must be taken of the fact that the institution of chieftaincy is an entrenched clause in our constitution, and hence a permanent feature within the governance structure of Sierra Leone,” he said.
He said that paramount chiefs are expected to be above partisan politics, adding that empirical evidence points to a growing pattern of appreciable number of paramount chiefs and traditional rulers being active in partisan politics, much to the discomfort of their subjects, which he referred to as a recipe for national insecurity.
Speaking on behalf of Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police Dr. Richard Moigbe, Director of Police Operations AIG Fodie Umaru Karefa Daboh said they are ready to police the 2018 elections but that they cannot succeed without the support of traditional leaders and chiefs.
‘’Police will not be everywhere as we do not have all the logistics to be at every area, that’s why we will be using chiefdom police to help with the security sector,” he disclosed.
He admonished the traditional leaders to be apolitical as they should serve as role models in their community, adding that they play an important role towards the attainment of credible, free and fair elections in the country.
In his keynote address, head of Council of Paramount Chiefs, Hon. P.C. Sheku A.T. Fasuluku Sonsiama III of Sandor Chiefdom in Kono District pledged their commitment to promoting civic education to their subjects, adding that chiefs would avoid partisan act during the electioneering period.
‘’We will help the police and the security sector, report any irregularity during and before the electioneering process amongst others,” he promised
The forum, which was held at Bank of Sierra Leone Complex, Kingtom concluded with a presentation on the code of conduct for political parties.