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UN Urges Political Parties to Adopt Peaceful Political Language

July 13, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie 

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Leaders of political parties at the Non-violent Communications forum at Raddison Blu

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone yesterday urged political parties to work across party lines and commit to adopting peaceful political language and a spirit of tolerance during the entire electoral cycle.

According Sunil Saigal, such commitment would ensure that they refrain from expressions of intolerance or using languages which could inflame others.

He was speaking at the Raddison Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown during a non-violent communications forum organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) for political parties.

The forum provided leaders from various political parties the opportunity to discuss and analysed  dangers and consequences of communications that could insight and create violence, which would in the process lead to chaos in the country.

Mr. Saigal stated that complex political problems and deeply embedded patterns of distrust and hostility cannot be meaningfully addressed through inflammatory speeches, but rather through constructive dialogue and peaceful political discourse.

“Political deadlocks and conflicts can hamper the drive of a nation towards development and social cohesion. Constructive dialogue between political actors is essential to avoid zero-sum politics, which causes insecurity, instability and unnecessary suffering among people,” he said.

He noted that political leaders are in a position of trust and authority and therefore, through their speech and political discourse, can directly or indirectly incite supporters to engage in violence or refrain from it.

“Negative and inflammatory statements whether deliberate or careless, could contribute to igniting a cycle of violence. Political leaders’ discourse may have an impact on party members and followers, who may feel encouraged in their intolerance and bias against political opponents. Political leaders can also have a significant impact in conveying messages of peace and calm, while still getting their political and ideological views across,” he said.

He noted that the UN Security Council welcomed the strong progress Sierra Leone has made in creating national institutions with a peace-building mandate, but cautioned that the new national infrastructure for peace would require the coordinated and coherent support of national and international partners to meet the country’s peace-building effort.

Mr. Saigal, who doubles as UNDP Resident Representative, added that political leaders and actors in general have the obligation to reflect on the possible impact of their communications- be it in their followers, opponents or the society as a whole and that prevention of violence, including refraining from incitement to violence, is the path toward peaceful and credible elections.

Also, PPRC Chairman, Justice Patrick O. Hamilton, said peaceful and transparent election is a credible ingredient in the democratic process, adding, “It is clear that there is going to be political tensions which can insight hate speeches. Such communications can create chaos within political parties, thus undermining the growth of the country’s democracy.”

He stressed that non-violence communication among political parties was very essential in the conduct of credible elections and that it behooves political parties and leaders to fully commit themselves to non-violence communications for peace and stability to prevail throughout the electioneering process.

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