Post-election peace dialogue: win-win situation for govt., opposition

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By Alhaji Haruna Sani

The Government of Sierra Leone and the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party have signed an eight-point agreement, leading to the APC agreeing to end its non-participation in governance.

The APC rejected the outcome of the tightly contested June 24, 2023 general elections, citing significant irregularities and breaches of electoral procedures leading to their decision not to participate in governance across various levels, including the legislature and local councils.

Following the political standstill in the country, a three-day dialogue was held following the request of the Sierra Leone’s Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) for the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Commonwealth to facilitate the discussion.

In his speech at the dialogue opening ceremony on Monday, the Leader and 2023 Presidential Candidate of APC, Dr Samura Kamara mentioned that the post-election dialogue must produce a path to restoring democracy and the people’s ‘stolen votes’. He also called on the release of the disaggregated results by the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL).

In a direct response, Chief Minister, David M. Sengeh assured that all parties, including the APC, already possess the disaggregated results they are seeking. He emphasised the importance of adhering to the nation’s laws throughout the dialogue and expressed regret for any hurtful comments previously made by the government.

In a communique after the three-day dialogue held at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown, the Government of Sierra Leone and the APC party commit to the establishment of an independent committee of moral guarantors whose membership shall be agreed by the parties to support and monitor the implementation of the agreement.

According to a signed agreement released after the dialogue which commenced on Monday 16th October and concluded on Wednesday 18t October, the APC will end its non-participation in governance, and the President, in consultation with the APC, will constitute a cross-party committee on electoral system and management bodies review.

It was agreed that the government will release any persons arrested, detained, or imprisoned for alleged election or civil protest informed by the list to be submitted by the APC.

Correspondingly, the government will discontinue all politically motivated court cases against the APC, other parties, and their supporters based on a list to be submitted by the APC and other parties. 

Although many grassroots supporters of the APC were hoping for a re-run of the elections, but it was agreed that there will be no re-run of the 2023 general elections in Sierra Leone, as previously demanded by the party supporters.

The President is to also make a national address on dialogue, unity, and peace and in consultation with the APC; President will constitute a cross-party committee on electoral system and leadership bodies’ review.

Support the resettlement of any political party supporters internally and externally displaced due to political intimidation, attacks and harassment based on a list to be submitted by the APC and other parties and considered by the government of Sierra Leone as soon as possible.

That upon assumption of their governance positions, all elected APC officials, members of parliament, mayors, chairpersons, councilors will have the issue of entitlement addressed accordingly by the appropriate institutions.

“Both parties agreed to the institutionalization of an inter-party dialogue framework between the APC, SLPP and other political parties. This will be facilitated by the government,” the communique reads.

Both parties also committed to re-engineer and rekindle the relationship between the national, socio-political ecosystem such as between His Excellency, the President and former political leaders, former Presidents and vice presidents, the APC and SLPP leadership, etc.

The government of Sierra Leone and the APC are to strictly condemn all citizens at home and abroad who incite violence, spread hate speech and disrupt national cohesion online and offline and government will pursue all efforts to bring those involved to justice.

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