Global Rescue Mission Sierra Leone (GRM-SL) has held a one day stakeholders meeting on the theme: “Promoting Participatory Democracy in Local Government” at the Holy Trinity Parish Hall along Blama Road in Kenema.
About 45 participants were drawn from Nongowa, Dama, Simbaru, Small Bo and Kandu Leppiama chiefdoms in the Kenema district respectively and it was funded by the British High Commission.
In his opening remarks the chairman of the ceremony PC Alhaji Momoh Fowai of Dama Chiefdom welcomed participants and expressed satisfaction of their commitment to move forward Democracy in their various communities. He called on everyone to help the government to undertake developmental activities in the communities there by getting everyone to take part in governance.
Paramount Chief Fowai said everyone should play a part in electing who should represent him or her in the council or governance. Community affairs should be the affairs of all he said. The Paramount Chief appealed to the candidates to go all out and convince people to show that they are capable of leading their communities, pointing out that the task of everyone during electioneering period is to ensure that a level playing field exists. He said they as stakeholders, should recognize all in the community and that is by allowing youths or everyone like the blind, deaf, polio among others in the democratic process.
Representing the Assistant Inspector General of Police east (AIG) Elizabeth Turay, the Superintendent of police, support officer Kenema division Harrison Ngegba Samfa said democracy is defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people and therefore they as police are there to protect life and property. The police he said are there to police the election and make sure that they work in collaboration with all stakeholders to have a violence free election at all time. He said NEC is in charge of electioneering while the police should make sure that they provide security for the people before, during and after election.
He explained that when conflict comes to the police they make sure that they investigate all parties equally. They as police are there to ensure that the rule of law is maintained in our land by giving fair play in any matter which gets to them irrespective of party, religion or tribe. He disclosed that the police are engaged in day and night patrol there by participating and promoting democracy in the country.
Giving his statement on behalf of the Brigade Commander Col. Sahr Sinnah, Capt. Tamba Foa Matturi of the 3rd Brigade headquarter said when the guns have become silent, those who survived the conflict will come together to unite and what brings them together is democratization. By so doing they will forge ahead in terms of development.
He said candidates who come forward to lead their communities always present beautiful manifestos all geared towards community development. He appealed to intending councilors to put transparency and accountability in their dealings.
He called on all to make sure that they bring into power the people they think will bring about development in their localities. He cautioned all to criticize constructively but not destructively saying that constructive criticism always move democracy forward in a positive direction.
He appealed to those who will lose the local council elections to join the winning candidates in the interest of peace and development for the nation. Captain Alimamy Taylor Kamara Intelligence and security officer 3rd Infantry Brigade called on all and sundry to enjoy his/ her right and freedom in accordance with the rule of law saying that security is very important in all process. He cautioned all to be security conscious at all time pointing out that security is the first pillar of democracy. He appealed to all to support the security forces to promote security at all level by providing prompt information to the forces.
The regional Gender Officer of PPRC Prince Quee appealed to the stakeholders to play their own role in their little way to make sure that we go through a peaceful election.
He said the PPRC would continue to monitor all aspects in ensuring that every one abide by the code of conduct of the electioneering process.
The regional coordinator east of GRM-SL Sahr Kamanda spoke about the critical decision making process while Foday Mousa Sesay the Project officer of GRM-SL another facilitator talked about citizens right/ women’s right and Prince Tarmoh talked about leadership and participatory community development.