The government of, for, and by the people (Democracy), should be open to dialogue and inclusiveness. Democracy is not asking for much. Just uphold the fundamental human rights in society.
Freetown, Sierra Leone, a recent Op-ed by the UN Resident Coordinator (RCO) for Sierra Leone, Babatunde A. Ahonsi, comments on the shifting trends of democracy; “We saw an unmistakable rise in political tensions in the land and louder expressions of anxieties about the democratic health of the country.”
The Resident Coordinator (RCO) confirmed that the UN will work with key parties to support efforts to attain peaceful, credible, and inclusive elections in 2023. Babatunde opined the actions of key political actors in 2022 will define whether the republic fruitfully holds elections in 2023 in a way that helps to advance the process of democratic consolidation in the consequent years.
The U.S. Department of State 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Sierra Leone paints a gloomy picture; “In contrast to 2019, there were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings,” it states.
In July 2020, security forces killed protesters in Makeni. The report states, “The victims were participating in a protest against the government’s relocation of a power generator and transformers from Makeni to Port Loko District to support the airport’s operations.” The protest escalated, “Residents reportedly burned tires on the streets and threw rocks during the protest. Authorities used tear gas and live ammunition in response.”
“Impunity remained a significant problem in the security forces, notably in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP). Observers noted police lacked training on crowd control and human rights topics,” the 2020 Country Report states.
The U.S. Department of State submits reports on all nations they offer assistance to and all United Nations member states to the U.S. Congress in agreement with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974.
The RCO said signs from 2021 were discouraging, as the country witnessed a vengeful instead of give-and-take politics; noting, there has been an unmistakable rise in political tensions and brassier expressions of anxieties questioning the country’s governance.
Political actors should seek the national interest, uphold peace and coexistence; anxious tones should change. “These tendencies would need to be reversed in 2022 to lay the foundation for an enabling environment for peaceful and credible elections in 2023,” Babatunde notes.
The need for the Peace Commission is evident. An inclusive one is desirable; now is the time to bolster the staggering peace the country prides in; especially, in a state that is struggling with every sector of development, and the standard of leaving wobbling so bad, the unemployment rate high and the number of unserviceable youth overwhelming uncountable; coxing all and sundry into upholding the peace and striving for development is paramount.
The government, political actors and stakeholders are expected to address the looming issues. The international community is watchful of the country’s shortcomings; with a guided spirit to promote democratic good governance, Babatunde said, “Therefore, a recommitment to genuine dialogue between the leaders of the ruling party and the main opposition parties to address unresolved political grievances in a mutually satisfactory way before the end of 2022 is an absolute necessity.”
The RCO reaffirmed, “The country needs more than ever before to return to the path of inclusive politics that builds bridges across ethnic, regional, gender, generational, and disability status divides.” Explicitly, in any countries that strive to grow, like Sierra Leone, political parties should not be seen as just a tool for assuming power, Babatunde noted, and points, “Continued failure to do so will only serve to weaken public trust in democracy and state institutions.”
Citizen requires leaders to serve the nation to advance the development and national cohesion, not to serve with a vengeful fist, but to bring the country together and uphold the fundamental human rights, improve the lives of vulnerable communities and progress the existing achievements over the years.
Stakeholder, religious leaders, civil society and political actors, seems to be wallowing in silence, at a time in which the outcry, the anxiety of the people is high, it is a call for concern and a time for leaders to lead and serve the people of Sierra Leone with sincerity.
The RCO calls leaders to the 2022 New Year Message of UN Secretary-General – Antonio Guterres: “Moments of great difficulty are also moments of great opportunity, to come together in solidarity, to unite behind solutions that can benefit all people and to move forward — together — with hope in what our human family can accomplish.”