After the announcement of the Presidential election results in Sierra Leone, a coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has expressed concern over the misuse of social media by political actors and their surrogates in disseminating hate and inciting messages, including making calls for illegal demonstrations which constitute a big threat to the stability of the country.
The CSOs drawn from districts across Sierra Leone met at the Freetown City Hall on the 29th of June 2023, and discussed the implications of the current situation for peace and stability.
The coalition presented eight major challenges facing the country and urged state institutions, political parties, and development partners to work cooperatively and address them. It noted fears that resources may not be fairly distributed by the incoming government continue to fuel election denial, hate, and suspicion.
“We note that Sierra Leone has become increasingly polarized over state resources,” they stated.
The group questioned the prediction of the Nationals Elections Watch.
“We believe that this fuels election denial deepens mistrust, and further deepens Sierra Leone’s fragility,” they noted.
The CSOs went on to note that the denial of election results by political parties, even where there is limited or no evidence of widespread election fraud creates the wrong impression to supporters about election outcome and contributes to division and instability in the post-election context.
They also stated that intolerance among party supporters in households, offices, and communities is contributing to widespread safety and security concerns, unhealthy confrontation, and community instability and disputes.
They pointed out that there have been complaints and concerns by political parties of unfairness and non-independence of democratic institutions, especially the police, and believes that these complaints continue to deepen the atmosphere of suspicion before, during, and post-election.
The Group affirmed that delays by the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) in responding to opposition demands for transparency in the electoral process contribute to deepening mistrust and chaos in the electoral process and results. It also stated that inciteful utterances by political leaders promote hate and division among citizens.
The CSOs ended the meeting by urging members of the public to remain calm and call for openness and inclusiveness in governance as they work with various actors to address the aforementioned challenges.