Is the Joint statement by the government of Sierra Leone and the APC a step towards genuine electoral Reforms?

James Momodu Dao Samba (Jnr): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 June 2024:

The recent joint statement by the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) and the All Peoples Congress (APC) announcing their commitment to continued cooperation and electoral reforms is a significant development in the nation’s political landscape. This collaborative effort, encapsulated in the work of the Tripartite Committee established under Resolution Three of the Agreement for National Unity, marks a notable attempt to address long-standing electoral issues.

However, the effectiveness and sincerity of these initiatives warrant critical examination. The statement’s commitment to ensuring free, fair, and credible elections is a positive signal, but genuine political will and sustained effort are essential for real change.

One of the critical components of the statement is the acknowledgment of the need for electoral justice and the commitment to implementing reforms to ensure free, fair, and credible elections. “Development and stability in Sierra Leone hinge on the credibility of our electoral processes,” said Mr. Joseph Bangura, a political analyst in Freetown. This perspective underscores the high stakes involved in the Committee’s work.

The inclusion of international experts and the completion of significant milestones such as the Terms of Reference and key documents indicate a structured approach to addressing these issues. However, this structured approach must translate into substantive action that genuinely reflects the will of the people.

Scepticism remains among some citizens. Mariatu Kamara, a resident of Bo, voiced her concerns: “We’ve heard promises before. What matters is the actual implementation and whether it will be done transparently.” This sentiment reflects a broader wariness among the populace, shaped by past experiences of unfulfilled promises and questionable electoral practices.

The Committee’s mandate to scrutinize and reform the electoral systems, structures, and processes of the 2023 multi-tier electoral cycle is ambitious, but its success will depend heavily on genuine political will and consistent public engagement. Transparent implementation of these reforms is crucial to rebuilding public trust in the electoral process.

Moreover, the joint statement’s emphasis on peace and national cohesion is crucial. Sierra Leone’s history of political unrest necessitates a steadfast commitment to non-violence and democratic principles.

The condemnation of any attempts to incite violence or disrupt the democratic process is a step in the right direction. As Aminata Conteh, a civil society activist, noted, “National unity is fundamental for our progress. It’s heartening to see both major political entities acknowledging this.” However, it is imperative that this commitment extends beyond words and is reflected in concrete actions that promote peace and inclusion at all levels of society.

The progress reported by the Tripartite Committee is encouraging, yet the path ahead is fraught with challenges. The final stages of the Committee’s work, including the presentation of a comprehensive report to the President, will be a litmus test for the country’s commitment to democratic reforms.

Successful implementation of the Committee’s recommendations could enhance Sierra Leone’s electoral credibility significantly. However, this will require not only political will but also active engagement and support from all sectors of society, including civil society organizations, the media, and the international community.

In conclusion, while the joint statement by GOSL and APC represents a promising commitment to electoral reform and national unity, its ultimate success will be measured by the tangible actions and outcomes that follow. The active participation and vigilance of Sierra Leonean citizens, coupled with robust international support, will be crucial in ensuring that this initiative leads to genuine, lasting change. As the nation anticipates the Committee’s final report, it remains hopeful yet cautious, reflecting a collective aspiration for a stronger, more inclusive democracy.

To the politicians and leaders of Sierra Leone, this is a call to prioritize conscience and the well-being of the people. Alleviating suffering and addressing the root causes of political and social unrest should be at the forefront of their agenda. The focus must be on implementing reforms that not only enhance electoral integrity but also address the broader issues of poverty, unemployment, and inequality. The people of Sierra Leone deserve a political system that truly represents their interests and works towards their prosperity.

Finally, the international community has a role to play in supporting these efforts. Development partners and international observers must continue to provide the necessary technical and financial support to ensure that the reforms are implemented effectively. Their involvement can also help to hold the political actors accountable and ensure that the promises made in the joint statement are fulfilled. The journey towards a more democratic and prosperous Sierra Leone is a collective effort that requires the commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders.

About the author

James Momodu Dao Samba (Jnr) is a Development Communications Professional and Commonwealth Scholar from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. In addition to his academic pursuits, he served as a valuable Graduate Teaching Assistant within the esteemed Graduate Teaching Engagement Team for the Department of Geography and is currently a communications consultant for Fambul Tok Sierra Leone and a UNV Volunteer for the United Nations Office for Partnerships in New York (Remote)


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