February 16, 2018 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Religious Leaders -both from the Muslim and Christian faith, yesterday gathered at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown to engage presidential aspirants and their supporters as to how they could endeavour to make the forthcoming general elections peaceful without any shed of blood.
The meeting was a follow up to a joint communiqué that was signed by two hundred delegates of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL), including the heads of Mosques and Churches, who met at the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone and deliberated on ways of using Sierra Leone for Peaceful Elections.
The religious leaders noted that they engaged all political party leadership in order to ensure peaceful and credible election come 2018, and that the Mosques and Churches should not be used as campaign platforms for politicians.
Secretary General of Inter-Religious Council, Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah, said considering the country’s recent history and the fact that elections have become conflict triggers in some African states, the council viewed the upcoming elections in March, 2018, as a key milestone in maintaining peace consolidation efforts.
He said they applauded the Election Management Bodies, political parties, and stakeholders for the great strides they were making to ensure a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.
“The Inter-Religious Council notes some recent unfortunate incidences of intolerance. These include the use of religious symbols in electioneering and political violence during rallies resulting in loss of life. We are concerned that the conduct of some critical stakeholders could continue to generate violence in the electoral process. The Council and its constituent bodies, the Church and the Mosque cannot afford to stay aloof or indifferent when there are clear early warning signals. Our Committee has stood by Sierra Leone in times of crisis and supported the country to transcend divisions, seek reconciliation, and develop sustainable solutions,’” he said.
“We think we are well-positioned, therefore, to support them and their followers to conduct themselves with civility and decorum, and ensure prevalence of peace in the country, especially during and after the elections. In light of the above, we hereby resolve today at this Inter Faith Dialogue forum to unite our efforts to work together to pursue the following objectives: To be politically neutral in leading our congregations and avoid the use of party colours, symbols and slogans. To extend an invitation to all aspiring presidential candidates to come for special prayers without delay and to receive God’s blessings for their endeavours and to hold interfaith prayers for peace and meaningful elections in Freetown, Bo, Makeni and Kenema at convenient dates in line with the campaign calendar.”