By Princess Lefevre and Stom Koroma
The International Republican Institute has concluded a one-day dialogue for Civil Society Organizations on the theme, rebuilding trust: finding the missing Link to keep the civic space Cohesive. This event took place at the Peace Hall-former Special Court of Sierra Leone in Freetown.
Making his statement on the topic ‘Scramble for funding leading to unhealthy Rivalry between CSOs’ Mr. Abu A. Brima, Director of NMJD said that some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have stronger opportunities than others which creates a tendency for rivalry among them, which in turn undermines the stability of CSOs, resulting to a clash of interest, for which he called on heads of CSOs to rise up to solve funding issues.
Talking on the topic ‘Mid-term census and change in the electoral system to PR caused polarization and mistrust’ the Executive Director of IGR, Andrew Lavalie, said that the 2015 and 2021 census were inaccurate. He said some CSO actors failed to entertain any call for correction, but openly opposed IGR in the media for the stances it took on the census outcome, as CSOs, he called on them to bring out issues of concern and speak in the interest of the people.
On behalf of the National Elections Watch (NEW) Rev James Lahai, spoke on the topic ‘New PRVT methodology and its lack of wider consultation with others’ said, the mid-term census was not timely and a waste of money, he furthered that, on many occasions they have made an open call on the government not to proceed with the census, not only because it may need wider consultations, but because it is not timely and also the cost that is involved in carrying it out. He stated that for the 2023 elections, they have 450 organizations that observed the election under NEW.
Adbein T.J.Smith, program officer at IRI spoke of how difficult it could be to mix Civil Society work and political ambition, which he said has always affected the civil space. He said because of the affiliations or extra intentions they have with politicians, impede their judgment and eventually become biased. For this, he called on CSOs to be neutral, impartial and work in the interest of the people, which is the reason for the formation of their organizations.
Over 70 CSOs throughout the country were invited to discuss post-election issues which will help them to bring out issues that affected them during the elections and to find ways in solving them going forward.