By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Dorwontony organization for the Aged (DoFA), last Thursday in a one day symposium, engaged the aged on electoral violence and their role toward the 2023 elections.
Speaking at the symposium that was held at 50/50 Group Secretariat on the theme ‘aging and electoral violence the role of the aged toward the 2023 elections, chairman of the event Mohamed Asmieu Bah, said Sierra Leone should be proud to have old people.
He said old people are reservoir of knowledge and called on the young people to ensure they always respect the aged and also care for them.
He said during elections, the role of the aged is very critical because they are vulnerable to violence and most time they are the victims.
He called on the aged to engage their children and grandchildren to stay out of violence before during and after elections.
Chief Executive Officer of Dorwontony organization for the Aged, Doreen S. Barrie, said the event was to discuss the necessary things that should be done to protect the aged from violence and ensure peaceful elections.
She said the inclusion of old people into electioneering processes is key, noting that at the symposium, they will outline things that will promote and help them to be able to not only cast their votes easily but to do it safely and in peaceful environment.
She said during the election registration process, they provided cash as transportation to the aged to go and register, noting that they also want to ensure that they include the aged in the monitoring process across the country.
Representative from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Thomas Kamara, said the government has the aged at heart and that the social protection has started to recognize the aged in the country and the government has also started to put the aged at the centre-stage of the social protection projects.
He disclosed that they were currently working on a social protection bill and a part of the bill will give the aged advantage to access services easily including public transportation and other facilities.
One of the aged, Rev. David B. Kallon, said election is a process of electing leaders and not a violent process, noting that “you can convince someone to support your side during election, but you can’t force people to support your side.
Deputy Head of Community Outreach at the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), Assistant Superintendent of Police, Samuel Sao Conteh, said the SLP is ready to support and protect the aged, noting that it is their right to vote and nobody should threatened by no one.
He encouraged them to report to the police any violence at their centres, noting that the SLP is prepared to provide the necessary security to ensure peaceful elections process.
Director of External Relations at Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, Albert Massaquoi, said one of the major characteristics of the aged is that they have vast knowledge about the world.
He said one of the causes of electoral violence is politics, because opponent are using people against one another, noting that the role of the aged is to prevent non -violence before, during and after elections using their experience.
He said they should always ensure that they advise the young people at their homes, communities and be peace makers in their communities because they are more listened to.
He said they are going to create provision for the aged including people with disabilities not to queue to cast their votes.