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CAFI expresses concern over Sierra Leone elections

23 March 2018 at 19:06 | 2455 views

According to its website, the Commonwealth Africa Initiative (CAFI) is a Pan Commonwealth organisation with a mandate to promote the interest of the African bloc of the Commonwealth of Nations and foster more opportunities for Commonwealth Citizens and Businesses from Africa. Through her scholarship program and exchange activities, the initiative helps to foster economic prosperity for Commonwealth Nations in Africa. The initiative champions Sustainable development, economic prosperity, security and good governance across Commonwealth countries in Africa. CAFI works to achieve this mission by working in partnership with the Commonwealth, African Government, public and private institutions, as well as other regional and international development partners.

CAFI has been following recent developments in Sierra Leone and has come up with the following press release:

The Commonwealth Africa Initiative is gravely concerned by the incidences of violence and communal tensions in the Republic of Sierra Leone over the course of the first round of the 2018 election. These issues must be addressed ahead of the presidential run-off election, scheduled for next Tuesday, March 27.

The manifestation of unlawful acts by a section of members across the political spectrum is unacceptable. The actions of the two leading political parties the All People’s Congress Party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party as well as the government’s perceived inaction to deal with the situation has led to the loss of life and destruction of property.

It is incumbent on the government of Sierra Leone to ensure that civil society, media and opposition groups can participate in the electoral process without fear and intimidation. The security agencies have a responsibility to act within the laws of the land as well as adherence to their professional codes of conduct. They should ensure that their actions in exercising their mandate remain within the dictates of the law.

We have learnt with dismay that there have been recurrent attacks and intimidation on opposition groups and the NEC ahead of the re-run election. Rights groups also reported the loss of lives, injuries and destruction of property in acts of violence including a recent attack in Bo.

We also find the recent restrictions placed on freedom of movements during the elections in the country deeply troubling. These restrictions, intimidation and violence can only serve to undermine the rule of law in the country.

Additionally, the Commonwealth Africa Initiative continues to receive reports pointing to tribal hate speech from key political leaders in the country. These acts also undermine the electoral code of conduct signed by all political parties in the spirit of levelling the playing field and ensuring the delivery of a credible process. The orchestrated campaign to divide the country along tribal lines must end and serve only to undermine the democratic process in the country. Such actions threaten the stability of Sierra Leone and indeed the ECOWAS sub-region.

The international community must take a firm stand against such efforts, and the intimidation of opposition parties, journalists and activists in Sierra Leone as the country prepares for the presidential run-off election later this month. Indeed it is high time the international community take meaningful action regarding the situation in Sierra Leone by calling an emergency UN Security Council meeting to address the issue. The international community must act now to prevent a repeat of civil conflict in Sierra Leone.

The Commonwealth Africa Initiative believe that the integrity of the 2018 electoral process hangs in the balance. More delays and a failure to hold accountable those parties who have committed serious abuses and malpractices will compromise the credibility of the government. In action will only dampen the international community’s ability and willingness to engage with the government of Sierra Leone.

Editor’s Note: Here is a video about a CAFI event featuring the late Moseray Fadika from Sierra Leone.