From the Editor’s Keyboard

Sierra Leone: Security Worries

2 August 2007 at 19:23 | 711 views

Commentary

By Patrick Hassan-Morlai, Vanguard Correspondent, London, UK.

Any form of violence risks marring the reputation of Sierra Leone’s forthcoming elections. That being the case, the recent violence between and among the three main political parties - SLPP, APC and PMDC - has now significantly contributed to a deteriorating situation in that country’s security.

Reporting on the Wednesday, August 1, 2007 edition of its “Crisis Watch No 48”, the International Crisis Group has described Sierra Leone as one of the most fragile (security-wise) countries together with countries like Burundi, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Philippines, and Zimbabwe. The Crisis Watch report notes that the Sierra Leone Police have “reported an upward trend in campaign violence before the 11 August presidential and parliamentary election; announced tougher measures, but admitted insufficient resources.”

This is no surprise to many observers and commentators on the situation in Sierra Leone. In fact, since July 10 when campaigning officially commenced, there have been scores of examples of campaign-related violence between and among political parties.

These incidences are so alarming that the Executive Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (ERSG), Mr. Victor Angelo, on Monday 23 July 2007 observed that as far as the elections are concerned, they should be violence-free, respect the rule of law and the political parties’ code of conduct, as well as the democratic principles of fairness and tolerance. Mr Angelo expressed his concerns while hosting the leaders of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), as well as media proprietors and key institutions related to the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections at a breakfast meeting aimed at encouraging effective monitoring and fair and objective reporting of the elections.

It is therefore hoped that the Crisis Watch report, together with all previous warnings, will encourage leaders of political parties to ensure that their supporters refrain from acts which will mar the forthcoming elections and jeopardise the peace every Sierra Leonean now enjoys.

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