A nongovernmental organization called Global Rescue Mission Sierra Leone (GRM-SL) held a follow-up workshop on July 25th 2008 on the outcome of the local council elections that took place on July 5th 2008.
The workshop, which is being funded by the British High commission, took place at the Youth Sport Club hall along Mahei Vangahun road in Kenema city and brought together participants from Bo, Simbaru, Nongowa, Dama and Kandu Leppiama chiefdoms with the aim of promoting participatory democracy in local governance in the Kenema district.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, GRM-SL Project Coordinator Tom White welcomed all participants at the workshop, saying that the purpose of the workshop is to know what the youths experienced before, during and after the election, and that the experiences will be shared with others to ensure good governance.
Mr. White pointed out that those in attendance are ambassadors of their communities and that it should be possible for them all to disseminate the knowledge that they will gain during the workshop to their respective community members.
Mr. Joseph Kamara, one of the facilitators, first sort the views of participants about the election, conduct of voters, peacefulness/ tensions, transparency, genuineness and turnout. When talking about representation, he explained that if a losing party receives votes, the governing party can see that there is a level of support for the other party’s policies and therefore will adopt those policies, to some extent, in order to represent everyone and not marginalize potential votes. In discussing development in democracy, he said all parties should help, assist and advocate their individual priorities to the governing party, instead of working against them and undermining them.
During the closing courtesy, GRM-SL Regional Coordinator Sahr Kamanda thanked all participants for their turnout and courage in going through the workshop. He encouraged everyone, especially the women, to be politically active. He further explained that the responsibility of community people in exercising their rights is to observe and monitor the activities of the local councils which include: Paying fees, taxes, and rates for services delivered; participating in community development projects; and complying with the local Government Act.
At the end of the workshop, points were raised to address “perfect neutrality, impartiality and independence for the 2012 general election,” as well as the hopes of political leaders and organizations to embark on a massive non-violent election campaign to make future elections violence-free. Coordinators and facilitators urged Sierra Leoneans to try and think critically in making political decisions rather than basing it on regional or tribal sentiments.