As Sierra Leone approaches the 2018 national elections, Sierra Leoneans from within and outside the country have expressed concerned following rising levels of intolerance on several fronts, especially political intolerance.
According to Alusine Sesay, a peace activist in Sierra Leone, intolerance, especially the one accompanied by violence should not be condoned in a democracy.
He advised that the National Electoral Commission pays keen attention to the conduct of these elections to eschew any trend of political intolerance.
“Any political player found violating the electoral code of conduct must face punitive action,” he averred.
Political intolerance is seemingly surfacing in the preliminaries of the nation’s 2018 general elections.
Last week on 21st October, 2017, at Oggo Farm, one Mohamed Kanu, a Maada Bio supporter was allegedly stabbed to death by a group of thugs.
Even when the matter is under investigation by the police, some Sierra Leoneans are still skeptical as to whether the matter could be adequately addressed.
Osman Kamara, another concerned Sierra Leonean noted that the National Electoral Commission and the Police should take the necessary action to avert future occurrences.
“In-fact the Electoral Commission should call on the candidates, political parties and their supporters to conduct their campaigns with utmost restraint and strict adherence to the Electoral Code of Conduct,” he said, adding, “the Commission should take several measures including fining offenders, suspending campaigns in areas prone to violence or barring candidates participating in elections altogether.”
He indicated that differences in political orientation and membership to different political formations should not take us back to our dark past.
“In any case, such differences ought to lay a strong foundation for our country’s democracy.”
He disclosed that the civil war that ravaged Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002 is a dark past.
“We are still haunted by the effects of that dark past with lots of young men now aged between the ages of 15 to 25.
Most with no role models at home, no skills, no education. All they know is thuggery, loitering and the like,” he explained, pointing out such situation only exists “where there is a lost generation.”
However, in a bid to consolidate the country’s fragile peace, the chairperson of the country’s Human Right Commission, Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah called on journalists and politicians to be careful of the messages they put out to the public.
He said that the use of defamatory statements against opposing political candidates should be frowned at and the Human Right Commission shall not reneged in prosecuting any political party or political candidate found wanting of such act.
With lessons drawn from past incidents, it is vitally important that the country maintains peace as she edges closer to the polls in March 7, 2018.