The National Elections Watch (NEW) has in a press release dated March 21st, 2018, called on Dr. Samura Kamara of the ruling All Peoples Congress and Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) to publicly condemn all forms of political intolerance, hate speech, regional and tribal intimidation and violence ongoing across the country.
“National Election Watch (NEW) is worried about political parties fanning tribal incitements with the use of hate speech and inflammatory statements. This ugly situation has already degenerated into widespread violence and stakeholders publicly intimidating citizens perceived to be their opponents. The current political intolerance so far exhibited, undermines the tenets of participatory democracy together with free, fair and credible elections,” NEW said in their statement.
The organisation noted that they have been monitoring the media in the lead up to March 7 elections and they have enough evidence to show that some media institutions aid and abet politicians to use their institutions for propagating hate and tribal sentiment speeches.
“We therefore condemn media institutions and politicians (or political party) playing the tribal card and ethno-regional sentiment in their campaigns to secure votes in this Run-off election,” the statement adds.
In the release, NEW relates that Sierra Leone is admired across the world for her ethnic and religious tolerance, which is deeply rooted in the country’s cultural heritage.
“There is very healthy inter-ethnic and religious marriages in our country and so Sierra Leoneans MUST resist the attempt by politicians to manipulate this attribute in the good interest of our nation and our upcoming generations,” the release further stated.
NEW expressed concerns about the level of organised attacks and threats on the lives of party supporters and civil society activists in Port Loko, Kono, Freetown, and Tonkolili, and urged the Sierra Leone Police to be more proactive in protecting the lives and properties of Sierra Leoneans as the country prepares for the run-off election.
The organisation reminded President Ernest Bai Koroma not to renege on his open statement made during the Non-Violence and Peace Building event organised by the Sierra Leone Police at the National Stadium, and called on him as Fountain of Honour, Chairman of the National Security Council and Commander of the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone to make a strong statement on the spate of violence, intolerance, hate and tribal speeches that threaten to undermine the peaceful conduct of the run-off election.