March 16, 2018 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Ihe Institute for Governance Reforms (IGR) has described the just-concluded March 7 general elections as credible and a significant partway in strengthening the country’s democracy.
IGR Executive Director, Andrew Lavali, said in an exclusive interview with this medium that the country’s democracy was maturing, adding that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and Political Parties Registration Commission worked very hard to conduct the elections and that Sierra Leoneans were given the opportunity to cast their votes.
Mr. Lavali further observed that Sierra Leoneans largely voted in that election based on policy and not tribal, thus debunking claims by some section of society that voters were influenced by tribal affinity in deciding who to vote for.
“Some people are saying that this election was based on tribal but that was not the case. This is the first time after ten years we have seen the opposition party taking parliamentary and local council seats in Freetown. That shows that the ideas of the opposition parties are spreading. Similar situation happened in the northern region as well. That was not based on any tribalism. Normally when people are voting they have certain things on their mind they want government to address. For example, education, health and sanitation, standard of living among other things.
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This is what people should understand. There are a lot of pressure on people to vote on burning issues rather than tribalism,” he said and further noted that based on the political divergence wherein certain regions are owned by certain political parties, when those parties loss elections or seats in their supposed stronghold, it clearly shows that people have lost confidence in the policy of that party.
“Unfortunately what the politicians do, knowing so well that the Mende and Temne people are closely related, they try to preach tribalism. We are not going to relent, the three issues Sierra Leoneans should be very concerned about are the issues of identity, tribal, political violence and the neutrality of state security institutions as to how they comport themselves so that people can vote freely for the candidate they want,” he said.
He added that his organisation would work with their colleagues in the ‘standing together consortium’ to develop information pack that would teach Sierra Leoneans how they could vote in peace.
“Whoever wins this election we can still be brothers and sisters,” he concluded.