By Yusufu S. Bangura
As it remains a few weeks to elections, Executive Director for National Elections Watch (NEW), Marcella Samba Sesay, has on Wednesday, 10th May, during the popular Radio Democracy 98.1‘Gud Morning Salone program’, demanded that presidential candidates release their manifestos that will guide voters in the next five years going forward.
She made the demand while speaking on the expectation of Sierra Leoneans, especially when presidential candidates have gone through nomination process, but are yet to make public their manifestos promise to citizens.
She said presidential candidates should not hold citizens to ransom because every political party and candidate have a platform to campaign on, adding that if people are dancing democracy, they need to know why they are voting for political parties.
She further said that elections have two major things that citizens should know, including the governance perspective which will inform them on how they should cast their vote, which she said is very important especially when there is a new voting system-the PR system.
“Citizens should know that they are voting for policies, plans, aims, among others. Because our vote is our life which means the next president has to transform our lives as those are the plans we want to see in their manifestos,” she said.
She cited that in 2002 late President Ahmad Tejan Kabba campaigned on the platform of peace, wherein he promised that peace would be restored and citizens would be able to live in a stable society that would bring development in the country.
She noted that such message drew the attention of the people and they casted their vote for him.
She added that in 2007, former President Koroma promised to give the people good roads, pipe born water, and electricity, a manifesto promise she said brought him in power.
She further that in 2018, President Bio and his New Direction campaigned on Free Quality Education and took education high on the agenda.
The civil society activist noted that the 2023 elections are fast approaching and presidential candidates are yet to release their manifestos to help the public make informed decision come June 24.
“At this point even before political parties should have chosen their candidates they should have first given out their vision for the country, so we are worried that the two big political parties have put forward their campaign team without their manifestos. Therefore, we are demanding for political parties and candidates to tell us about the plans they have for us that will guide us for the next five years,” she said.
She stated that citizens wanted to see health care be high on party’s manifestos because people are dying of diseases that are curable in the country, so the people want to see a campaign team that will profile their candidate’s manifesto for the next five years.
“Poverty is no longer fashionable so this county needs to work towards peace and stability, work towards a cohesive country. We also have to bridge the divide that has already existed which is not good for our children to grow up in a society that they should think that Limba, Mende or Temne should fight themselves because we are a unified country.So, we really need to put peace, stability and cohesion high on the agenda,” she said.