Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 June 2019:
Following the spate of political violence in various parts of Sierra Leone since the elections of March 2018, which saw the All People’s Congress (APC) party ousted from office by the Sierra Leone’s People’s Party (SLPP), there have been calls for peaceful resolution to the dispute.
A few weeks ago, further violence took place at the offices of the APC in Freetown, when police attempted to enforce law and order, stopping an escalation of what the police referred to as breach of the peace that was becoming uncontrollable.
The opposition APC are accusing the police of breach of human rights and use of heavy handed policing tactics, aimed at destroying their party’s capacity to function. They also accuse the government of constitutional abuses with the help of the judiciary.
The opposition APC have since then lost nine of their parliamentary MPs to the ruling SLPP, after controversial court ruling on election petition cases.
Relationship between the ruling SLPP and the man opposition APC have seriously broken down, with alarming threat to the peace and stability of the country.
The Inter-Religious Council (IRC) of Sierra Leone, yesterday issued a statement saying that it will soon publish its report on political tension in the country, after speaking with all political parties and stakeholders.
This is what the IRC said: “Since the announcement of the 2018 elections result, we have been noticing high political tensions in the country. The situation became more tensed in the immediate aftermath of the High Court verdict of the election petitions, as a result of which some Members of Parliament lost their seats.
“In the past week, the Executive Committee of the Inter-Religious Council as Moral Guarantors of the peace has been meeting major stakeholders to listen attentively to their interpretations of the situation and their suggestions for a solution to the problem. Eventually, the Committee will reflect on its findings and propose to all its recommendations regarding the way forward.
“The general impression of the Committee is that all sides want peace and therefore desire a speedy resolution of the political impasse, so that we may continue our national development agenda.
“Therefore, while IRCSL is carrying out this very important fact-finding exercise, it is appealing to all to remain calm and to avoid any action that might further exacerbate the situation. We appeal especially to the leaders of all political parties to avoid hate speech, incendiary statements, incitement, or actions that might further disturb the peace.
“Sierra Leone is the one country we have, and it belongs to all. We should therefore do everything possible to make sure that everyone feels at home within the boundaries of this nation.
“We continue to pray that God/Allah brings this nation under its protective shield of compassion and mercy and for peace and tolerance to prevail.”
The Sierra Leone Telegraph had called for the intervention of the IRC, and published the following proposals for the way forward:
“The Sierra Leone Telegraph is calling upon the Inter Religious Council (IRC) of Sierra Leone to take on this peace mission as custodian and guarantor of the nation’s moral conscience. In carrying out this task, the IRC should do the following:
1. Conduct an inquiry into the violence that took place at the APC office in Freetown.
2. Present its findings and recommendations to the government, the police, the APC as well as all other political parties, the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration Commission and international stakeholders.
3. Convene a peace and reconciliation summit involving all political parties and the government, with the international community stakeholders in attendance.
4. Produce a Peace and Reconciliation Agreement to be signed by the president, the chairman of the APC and leaders of all other political parties, as well as the IRC as witness to the signing.
5. Publish the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
6. Produce and implement a Plan for the continuous monitoring and evaluation of compliance of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.
7. Organise regular Roundtable public discussions (TV and Radio) involving all political parties.”
It is understood that the IRC will be taking forward some of these suggestions in their investigations and recommendations.