March 21, 2018 Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) and the Body of Christ have jointly called on President Ernest Bai Koroma to speak out and vehemently condemn the recent spate of tribal and regional hate speeches that have engulfed the political landscape in the run up to the second ballot scheduled for March 27.
“The current situation unfolding in the country is worrisome. This trend, if it continues, would not augur well for this country. We are pleading to President Koroma to come out and speak against tribal and regional voting. The president has a stake in this. He is our Commander-in-Chief and if anything goes wrong, he will be held responsible,” said Bishop Akintayo Sam-Jolly.
Rev. Christiana Sutton-Koroma condemned plans by the government invoke Military Aid to Civil-Power (MAC-P) on election day.
Invoking MAC-P means that the military will be deployed around the country to help provide security. The move was condemned by international observers during the first round of voting on March 7, but the security forces have indicated that both armed police and military personnel would be deployed around the country during the run-off.
“The intended MAC-P would do us no good. This is a post-conflict country where people are still traumatised. I think that will bar a lot of people from voting,” she maintained.
In a press statement dated March 20, 2018, jointly signed by Bishop John K. Yambasu, Reverend Titus William, Archbishop Tamba Charles and Bishop J. A. Cole, the senior clerics highlight three critical issues that have popped-up ahead of the runoff on March 27.
The release observed that political leaders and stakeholders have resorted to igniting a high level of tribal sentiments that have the potential of plunging the nation into deep seated tribal and regional conflicts.
The statement also noted that supporters of political parties were engaged in deliberately and blatantly sharing fake news and false information about each other with the intention of influencing the electorate against their respective opponents.
“These are hate speeches circulated personally by individuals and through social media. If this is not stopped immediately, it may degenerate into inconceivable conflict which would not be good for our nation. We already have a history of eleven years of senseless and brutal civil war which claimed the lives of over fifty thousand people,” the release noted.
The release unequivocally condemned all acts of violence and political manipulation, thus reminding political actors that the earth is the Lord’s and that God will bring every work to judgement whether they are good or bad.
The statement reminded all and sundry that election would come and go but the people stay, thus urging political leaders to do everything in their powers to stop their supporters or sympathisers from disseminating tribal and regional gossips.
“Be reminded that the word of God states that ‘We should make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)’. Also, Apostle Paul in Romans 12:17-18 states ‘Repay no evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all” the released concluded.