By Yusufu S. Bangura
Citizens across the country through the Citizen’s Manifesto launched by the Institute for Governance Reforms (IGR) have urged the next government to introduce traffic light and reduce traffic police officers from the streets, to avoid the incident that occurred on August 10 between citizens and police officers.
What happened: On Thursday 13th April, with funding from the Ireland Government, IGR launched the Sierra Leone Citizen’s Manifesto 2023 at City Hall in Freetown on the theme, ‘Making Elections Meaningful, Promoting Electoral Justice and Policy-Based Voting in Sierra Leone’.
In 2018, IGR launched the first Citizen’s Manifesto where citizens highlighted seven demands for government to focus on after elections, but most of the demands were not met.
What citizens said in the Manifesto? Representatives of various districts right across the country emphasised the need for more street lights and the reduction of police personnel in the street, as a way of eradicating bribery or minimizing it. They said if police are reduced from the streets, provision of jobs for youths and skills development will be easily attained.
They also stated in their resolutions that they are committed to keeping their districts clean, stop begging politicians, stop bribing police and people of authority and allow the law to take course.
What IGR said: Andrew Lavalie, IGR boss said during the survey,they conducted 2,400 interviews across the 16 districts where citizens demanded five key things for political parties to bear in mind or be included in their manifestos once they win the 2023 national elections.
“By harnessing the power of technology, we can significantly increase citizens’ trust of the police and build a more secure country,” he said, adding that after the August 10th incidence, it was established that police accountability had gone very low since 2012 to date.
He went on to state that a section of the August 10th report shows that the fall in police moral was as a result of the police traffic management, which has implication on market women increasing the price of their goods after calculating what they have spent along the way to the market.
What Ireland Ambassador said? The Irish Ambassador, Clarie Buckle said it is a priority for them to work with civil society organizations to engage citizens on developmental issues, noting that the citizens Manifesto is one of such issue.
“This Manifesto is the voices of citizens of their lives experiences and this should be closely reviewed by those who wish to represent them. Proudly we see from the outcome of this process the importance placed by citizens on accountability, transparency and issues with they are trapped with,’’ the Ambassador stated.