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Ahead of presidential run-off…

SLAJ frowns at hate speech, tribal slants

March 19, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie 

SLAJ
SLAJ President Kevin Lewis

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has expressed grave concern about the increase in hate speech and tribal slants making its way into the campaign ahead of a crucial presidential run-off slated for March 27.

Hours after the official announcement of the presidential result by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), supporters of the two traditional political parties – All People’s Congress (APC) and Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) – started trading tribal divide on social media and other platforms.

Some members of the public, including civil society organisations, are of the view that the sudden change in political messages and campaigns of the two parties and their supporters may course mayhem and divide the country along tribal lines, if not nip in board as quickly and possible.

In a press release issued last Friday, March 16, SLAJ said they view the trend of political discourse as ugly for the country’s nascent democracy, and that its potential to undermine the peace and stability of Sierra Leone cannot be overemphasised.

“Sierra Leone is hugely admired across the world for its ethnic and religious tolerance which is deeply rooted in its culture. Any attempt to tamper with this enviable attribute will spell doom for our nation and generations yet unborn,” the release stated.

The association strongly condemned any politician and political party who is playing the tribal card and ethno-regional sentiment in their campaigns to secure votes in the presidential run-off election.

While condemning and dissociating itself from any journalist who peddles hate speech and preach tribalism in their publications/commentaries/analyses on the elections, SLAJ called on all journalists and their media houses to resist any attempt by politicians to use them to promote divisions among people.

SLAJ President, Kelvin Lewis said: “This country belongs to all of us, we should stop this nonsense about tribe or region and begin to show love for this land that we love, our Sierra Leone.”

“As evident in the National Dialogue Series in the run up to the elections and the 2018 presidential debate, SLAJ encourages politicians, political parties and their supporters to focus on issue-based discourse around the elections rather than personalities or tribal/regional sentiment,” the release concluded.

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