SLPP, APC unity against hate speech: A new chapter for Sierra Leone’s unity

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By Alhaji Haruna Sani

 Sierra Leoneans both home and abroad have warmly welcomed the recent agreement between the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) to combat hate speech and promote peaceful political discourse. Since the announcement was made on the evening of June 3rd, there has been widespread approval, with no significant public criticism. While some have questioned whether the agreement was voluntary or influenced by external entities like the international community, the general consensus is that the motives behind the agreement are less important than the commitment to its implementation.

For many patriotic and peace-loving Sierra Leoneans, this agreement represents a long-awaited and much-needed step towards healing the deeply polarized political and tribal divisions within the country. The success of this initiative hinges on the sincerity and commitment of both parties to uphold the principles outlined in the communique they signed.

A commitment to peace and unity

The crucial question on the minds of many Sierra Leoneans is what the next steps will be following the signing of this peace and unity agreement. The real impact will depend on the implementation of the agreement, rather than it being just an ink on paper. If the SLPP and APC genuinely follow through on their commitments, it could mark a significant step toward a united and developed Sierra Leone.

Hate speech has been a major factor in promoting division along tribal and political lines, hindering the nation’s development. The agreement between the SLPP and APC aims to address this issue by committing both parties to peacefully and respectfully resolve political differences, strengthen democratic institutions, resume regular cross-party dialogue, and unite Sierra Leoneans across all divides.

Advancing national interests

Both political parties have expressed their shared dedication to advancing Sierra Leone’s broader national interest. They recognize that hate speech and irresponsible statements, particularly from the diaspora, have contributed to recent chaos and political upheavals. The bipartisan agreement is aimed at curbing such irresponsible behavior, promoting free speech with responsibility, and supporting the fundamental rights of free speech and freedom of the press, while ensuring these rights are not used to incite violence.

The agreement explicitly states that individuals should not be disparaged based on ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, or political affiliation. It condemns any spread of hatred against ethnic or religious groups. Both parties expressed grave concerns about recent instances of hate speech by political commentators, both domestically and abroad, deeming such behavior unacceptable and contrary to the values of the SLPP and APC. They call on all Sierra Leoneans to reject hate speech, emphasizing that it has no place in political discourse.

Legal actions and international support

One of the key benefits of the bipartisan agreement is the commitment to taking legal action against individuals who incite violence, regardless of their political affiliation. The SLPP and APC have agreed to investigate and prosecute such individuals, as incitement to violence is a crime under Sierra Leonean law. These actions must adhere strictly to legal and human rights standards, ensuring the protection of the rights of all SLPP and APC members and supporters.

The two parties also urge international partners to support their efforts to ensure justice is served fairly and thoroughly, noting that external assistance is vital in maintaining a just and peaceful society.

This agreement between the SLPP and APC marks a significant step toward fostering unity and peace in Sierra Leone. If implemented sincerely, it has the potential to transform the political landscape and contribute to the nation’s development.

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