Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 September 2019:
Yesterday, 26 September 2019, the government of Sierra Leone commemorated this year’s International Day of Democracy, under the theme: ‘Participation and Commitment for Democracy and Peace’. The event was organised by the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs.
Delivering the keynote address, the vice president of Sierra Leone – Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, said that Sierra Leone has made huge democratic gains, which are being consolidated as the country proceeds on a democratic path.
Speaking about the commemoration of this year’s International Day of Democracy, the vice president said that his government believes that democracy is the best form of governance, noting that the occasion gives the opportunity to assess how far our democracy has come in Sierra Leone.
He told the audience that, as an emerging democracy, Sierra Leone has succeeded in holding successive, peaceful and transparent elections, with the peaceful transfer of power from one political party to the next.
But he said that there is still plenty of work to do, in building democratic institutions, a free press and a flourishing civil society space so as to enhance the country’s democracy.
He said that several institutions have been established to help build and sustain democracy in Sierra Leone, such as the Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Democracy, Political Parties Registration Commission, National Elections Watch.
Vice president Jalloh spoke about the need to look beyond elections and embrace other important elements, such as institutionalization and scrutiny of democratic practices, and promoting wider participation in entrenching a functional democracy so as to consolidate the hard won peace.
There are challenges, the vice president said, including intra-political party democracy; enhanced representation; electoral violence; inclusive state institutions; inclusion of proportional representation to increase female participation, funding for CSOs, all of which he said are vital to building democracy.
Vice president Jalloh said that democracy is not simply about holding elections, but also to ensure and guarantee participation, build and support functional state institutions, ensure access to justice, providing security and social welfare for all, irrespective of tribe or regional identity.
Fundamental to achieving these pillars of democracy he said, there must be effective, functional state governance that respond to the needs of the people, without which he said democracy will fail.
Jalloh spoke about his government’s investment in the public sector to ensure that state institutions work effectively well, as its contribution to the development of democracy in the country.
Whilst noting that democracy may be a difficult choice for governments and political parties, the vice president said that for a nation to build a sustainable democratic culture, it is vital that the norms and standards of democracy are respected by all.