The National Democratic Institute (NDI) has held a one day forum at the Holy Trinity Parish hall along Blama road in Kenema.
The forum was geared towards drawing lessons from the conduct of the last local government elections in the country which will be used as a guide for future elections.
The NDI Country Director Honorine Mayoyeta says the forum will enable the participants to learn from the way the recent local government elections were held and to sensitize the public on the prevention of conflict in future elections.
NDI Deputy Regional Director for Central and Western Africa Pawen Harman reminded the gathering that the NDI has been in Sierra Leone for over eight years running programmes on the prevention of violence during and after elections and the institution of good governance in the country.
On her part the Senior Programme Officer at NDI, Clara Cole appealed to the members of the various communities, and politicians to partner with the communities so as to maintain the peaceful co-existence in our communities.
In his contribution Mr. Madieu Barrie of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) said conflict is very much of human existence and has always had various methods of handling or resolving it, depending on the culture of the community, since the causes of conflict are many and varied such as individual conflict, family conflict, international conflict, political conflict to name but a few, adding that the discussion is based on political conflict, which grows faster and is more destructive.
During our last local council election, the civil society organizations under a coalition called KENDCS (Kenema District Civil Society) identified stakeholders n the electoral process, including the National Electoral Commission, Political Party Registration Commission, police, youths, women and political parties.
“We had a common forum where all the stakeholders were educated on their roles and responsibilities. They were taught what is means to be democratic political parties; were taught the act of tolerance and how it could help the process” she said.
The coalition constantly engaged these stakeholders in diverse ways like meetings, radio talk shows, police partnership meetings, etc. The message was political, since civil society believes that politicians should look at people in other political parties as opponents and not as enemies.
The coalition explained to the political parties the dangers that political violence can cause in a community and the after effects.
The Local Unit Commander Kenema Division Joseph Kabbia observed that the prevention of conflict in any society depends on the fairness with which cases are treated. Justice he remarked must be allowed to run its full course at all levels.