Sierra Leone Political Parties Registration Commission calls for democracy to be upheld

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 October 2017

As delegates of three political parties head to their various conventions this weekend, there are fears the proceedings may turn violent and the outcomes undemocratic. On Wednesday, a journalist was stabbed in the capital Freetown at a rally organised by Julius Maada Bio and his Paopa supporters to celebrate the declaration of Maada Bio as a contender for the SLPP presidential candidacy.

There were ugly scenes as both supporters of the ruling APC and opposition SLPP ran riot in the capital, throwing stones and bottles. In response to the stabbing of one of its members, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists said:

“The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) is deeply disturbed about the stabbing of journalist Musa Sesay of The Exclusive Newspaper. Musa was covering the declaration of flagbearer aspirant Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio on Wednesday 11th October, 2017 and had just left the SLPP Head Office when he was attacked and stabbed several times by SLPP supporters along Howe Street. He is currently admitted at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown.

“This is irresponsible and totally unacceptable behaviour,” says SLAJ President Kelvin Lewis.

“The SLPP must do more to control its membership and avoid such violent clashes which have the propensity to derail the peaceful conduct of the 2018 elections.”

“SLAJ therefore strongly warns all journalists/media practitioners that political parties (politicians) that cannot guarantee the safety and security of media practitioners during their events *DO NOT* deserve coverage in our newspapers, radios and television stations.

“Furthermore, SLAJ urges all journalists to be fully alert and take necessary precautions to safeguard their lives and equipment whilst covering political events.

“If a journalist is covering any political event and the security situation deteriorates, please abandon the coverage and protect your life and equipment,” appeals Lewis.

“SLAJ also calls on the Sierra Leone Police to be proactive in policing political events, and also ensure the safety and security of all journalists.

“SLAJ further demands all Political parties/politicians to commit to ensuring the safety and security of all journalists who cover their events.”

The US Embassy is warning its citizens to take caution. This is what it says in a statement issued today:

“The U.S. Embassy has learned that political rallies are ongoing throughout Freetown, especially in the downtown area, at this time.  Should you find yourself in an area where a rally is occurring, you should leave the area as soon as possible.

“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

“U.S. citizens are encouraged to review your personal security plans and remain aware of your surroundings, including at local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.

“We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Sierra Leone enrol in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enrol directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.”

Sierra Leone’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) has also issued statements to the three political parties that are holding their conventions this weekend, and this is what it says:

“Pursuant to Sections 6(2) of the Political Parties Act of 2002, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) will on the 14th and 15th October, 2017  supervise the National Delegate  conferences for the election of the Flag bearer of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in Freetown.

“Furthermore, the Commission hereby encourages the Leadership, members, and supporters of the SLPP to ensure that the Conference is held  in accordance with Section 35 (2) of the 1991 Constitution which states that; “The internal organisation of a political party shall conform to democratic principles, and its aims, objectives, purposes and programmes shall not contravene, or be inconsistent with, any provisions of this Constitution”.

“The Leadership, members and supporters of the SLPP are also advised to conduct their affairs in accordance with the laws of the land throughout the entire process. It is the hope of the Commission that the party will return united and not fragmented.

“Pursuant to Sections 6(2) of the Political Parties Act of 2002, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) will on the 13th, 14th, 15th October, 2017 supervise the National Delegate  conferences of the All Peoples Congress Party in Makeni.

“Furthermore, the Commission hereby encourages the Leadership, members, and supporters of the APC to ensure that the Conference is  held in accordance with Section 35 (2) of the 1991 Constitution which states that; “The internal organisation of a political party shall conform to democratic principles, and its aims, objectives, purposes and programmes shall not contravene, or be inconsistent with, any provisions of this Constitution”.

“The Leadership, members and supporters of  the APC are also advised to conduct their affairs in accordance with the laws of the land throughout the entire process. It is the hope of the Commission that the party will return united and not fragmented.

“Pursuant to Sections 6(2) of the Political Parties Act of 2002, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) will on the 14th October, 2017 supervise the conduct of the National Progressive Democrats (NPD) National Delegate Conference in Freetown.

“Furthermore, the Commission hereby encourages the Leadership, members, and supporters of the NPD to ensure that the Conference is in accordance with Section 35 (2) of the 1991 Constitution which states that; “The internal organisation of a political party shall conform to democratic principles, and its aims, objectives, purposes and programmes shall not contravene, or be inconsistent with, any provisions of this Constitution”.

“The Leadership, members and supporters of the party are also advised to conduct their affairs in accordance with the laws of the land throughout the entire process. It is the hope of the Commission that the party will return united and not fragmented after this delegate conference as this is crucial to the survival of the party.”

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