On May 8th and 9th, 2023, ECOSOCC, the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC), the ECOSOCC National Chapter, and Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) partnered to host a two days stakeholders’ dialogue at the SierraBay Hotel.

The purpose of the dialogue was to prepare for a free, fair, and incident-free election for the people of Sierra Leone.

Distinguished guests who attended the event included the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, the Commissioner of the Western Area Electoral Commission, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Independent Peace Commission, representatives from the judiciary, and various democratic institutions and election management bodies.

During his opening speech, William Carew, the Head of Secretariat for ECOSOCC, highlighted the importance of the upcoming election in Sierra Leone for the progress of democracy in the country.

He emphasized the need for democratic institutions and election management bodies to work together to enhance democratic spaces for citizens.

The purpose of the dialogue, he explained, was to brainstorm, share ideas, and inform on the readiness for a peaceful, transparent, free, and fair election.

Carew recognized that the challenge of democracy and governance in Africa is not unique to one country and praised the efforts of the African Union and its member states in mitigating these challenges.

He pointed out that the African Union has prioritized the contribution of African civil society in achieving its democratic goals, and has established institutions to enhance their participation.

Specifically, Carew noted the importance of the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOC) in providing a platform for civil society organizations to contribute to the work of the Union.

He stated that their mandate is all-encompassing, but their highlight programs have been supporting the African Union’s efforts in enhancing democracy, good governance, peace, and security in Africa.

Carew commended Sierra Leone for resolving to rely on democratic processes to elect its next leader, especially given the increase in incidents of unconstitutional changes of governance in the West African region.

He urged the country to be a shining example of democracy and to be known as the beacon of democracy in the sub-region. Finally, he expressed confidence in the election management bodies to ensure a participatory, free, fair, credible, and transparent process.

In his statement, Dr. Francis Kai Kai, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, reiterated the government’s commitment and preparedness for the upcoming general elections on June 24th.

He expressed his satisfaction with the presence of ECOSOCC in Sierra Leone, which is there to evaluate the state of readiness for a transparent and just election.

The Minister stated that the government is dedicated to conducting an election that is free, fair, and credible, and that all political parties will be given an equal opportunity to participate.

He also mentioned that the government has adopted the PR System of Election, which aims to reduce tension, improve representation, and minimize costs, especially in the event of a by-election.

Zainab Mosery, Commissioner for the Western Area representing the Electoral Commission, emphasized the importance of the event as a platform for open communication within the Sierra Leonean family.

She reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to conducting free, fair, and credible elections in adherence to Sierra Leonean laws.

She stressed that free and fair elections, devoid of fear and intimidation, are crucial for a peaceful and favorable outcome that is acceptable to all.

Zainab expressed her concern about the weak links in the political sphere who pose as politicians and seek to destroy Sierra Leone’s progress due to their lack of leadership qualities.

She called on political parties to revisit the essence of their legacies periodically and reminded them of their roles in promoting peace and stability in Sierra Leone.

She emphasized that the goal is not about any individual or political party, but the development and leadership of Sierra Leone.

She highlighted that the purpose of conducting elections is to choose leaders who will govern the country and ensure compliance with the law.

Zainab stated that the Commission is looking forward to political parties enforcing their codes of conduct, which are now law, and ensuring that their members comply with them.

Zainab reiterated that political parties should focus on selling their agendas, shaping the political will of the people, and promoting peace and the interests of Sierra Leone, rather than resorting to intimidation tactics and abusive language.

She emphasized that the dialogue aims to remind political parties of the essence of their existence and the importance of conducting themselves in a manner that is acceptable to Sierra Leonean laws and values.

She stated that the upcoming election is an important story for several reasons. Firstly, the fact that it is almost entirely funded by the government of Sierra Leone is noteworthy. Additionally, the fact that the election is being fully managed by Sierra Leoneans, unlike in the past, is also significant.

Furthermore, the current Commission is dedicated to ensuring that the election is free, fair, and credible, without any bias towards any political party. All these factors make the upcoming election an important event to watch.

“In conclusion, I express my support for the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) and encourage them to continue working towards making their dream of a successful election a reality,” she stated.

Moses Margao, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, emphasized the importance of a peaceful, free, and fair upcoming election.

Margao stressed that it is the responsibility of all citizens to put measures in place that will ensure the safety and security of everyone involved, including citizens, political parties, international observers, and election officials.

Margao urged political parties and candidates to conduct their campaigns with respect and decorum towards their opponents.

He emphasized that political differences should never be used as a pretext for violence or incitement, and that healthy competition should always be based on ideas, policies, and plans to move the country forward.

Furthermore, He emphasized that it is crucial for all individuals involved in the election to remain impartial and enforce the law without fear or favor.

Anyone who violates the law must be held accountable. He also highlighted the importance of investigating and prosecuting all cases of election-related violence, intimidation, or fraud to serve as a deterrent to future violence.

He acknowledged the significant role of the media in promoting peace during elections, emphasizing that they can either mitigate or fuel conflict.

He called on the media to report accurately and responsibly, avoid sensationalism, and provide a platform for all political parties and candidates to air their views and plans for the country.

Finally, he called on all citizens to exercise their right to vote peacefully and responsibly, reminding everyone that our actions during this election will have far-reaching consequences for the future of our society.

He concluded by urging all stakeholders to collaborate and support each other in achieving a peaceful, free, and fair election, in line with the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion’s primary mandate

Giving and overview of what the African Government Platform is about.Amb Salah Hamad Head, AGA-APSA Secretariat, AU Commission said the African Government Platform aims to prevent conflicts from happening in Africa by promoting good governance, democracy, rule of law, and human rights.

It brings together the African Union, organs, institutions, and regional communities to coordinate their work and speak with one voice.

The platform’s main mandate is to popularize and advocate for the ratification of the African Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance.

The head of the AGA-APSA Secretariat emphasizes the importance of empowering women and youth in building the Africa we want.

“Sierra Leone’s success in advancing democracy, good governance, and the rule of law serves as a best practice to be shared with other countries in the region,” he said.

The head of the secretariat thanks Sierra Leone for hosting the meeting and emphasizes the importance of youth participation in the process.