The Catholic Church in collaboration with UNDP has ended a two day seminar at the Pastoral center conference hall in Kenema for 44 paramount chiefs in the Eastern region on the theme: Role of Paramount Chiefs in the democratic process in Sierra Leone.
In his statement His Lordship Bishop Patrick Daniel Koroma of the Kenema Diocese maintained that it is the moral obligation of the church to see a peaceful atmosphere, and therefore they see the role of the traditional rulers as very important.
He pointed out that Chiefs have a role to play in the electioneering process and therefore expect them to do so without taking sides as the institution of Chieftaincy is permanent.
Giving an over view of the seminar, Rev. Fr. Joseph A. Turay stated that it the church’s duty to stand by the traditional rulers to see that their obligatory role is being carried out in the interest of all.
The Catholic Church wants to give the Chiefs the opportunity to dialogue with all concerned so as to know their problems and challenges all in a bid to help keep the peace.
The participating Chiefs then came out with the Kenema Protocol which was read out by Paramount Chief Mohamed Daffie Benya of Small Bo Chiefdom Kenema district.
The traditional rulers firmly committed themselves to the ongoing democratic process in the country by promoting the rule of law and educating other citizens to work for the common good of the nation.
Supporting free and fair elections as a pre-requisite for any democratic consolidation and accepting the forth-coming presidential and parliamentary elections as a step forward towards sustaining our young democracy.
The Chiefs pledged to welcome any registered political party in their chiefdoms to present their ideas, manifestos etc. for the good of the country.
Continuing their work as custodians of culture and at the same time guarantors of peace and stability the Chiefs pledged to serve as arbitrators and mediators during conflicts.
They also pledged to collaborate with the National Electoral Commission and political parties to ensure free and fair elections and also ensure a level playing field for all parties and citizens.
They also promised to provide an enabling environment for fair play and the participation of all in the process.
In the communiqué they agreed to recognize that they are part of the electioneering process and therefore asked that:- All registered political parties follow the prescribed political parties’ code of conduct (that is the political parties should inform NEC, the Paramount Chiefs and Police for any activity in their area); also that the security situation be strengthened so that peaceful and free elections will be ensured.