Three political parties, the All Peoples Congress (APC), Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) on Friday signed an affirmation of commitment to create a conducive atmosphere for equal participation and representation in the local council elections with the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC).
Speaking at the stakeholders forum organized by the Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) at the Santanno house memorial hall, APC Organizing Secretary Mohamed L Bangura said “as far as the APC is concerned we acknowledge the participation of women and therefore we give them our full support” in terms of politics or in decision making.
Commenting on recent reports of intimidation against women involving his party, Mr. Bangura debunked the statement saying that his party is not aware of that and that they have not officially complained to them.
The Organizing Secretary pledged his party’s support to CGG and women contesting in the elections.
Expressing their party commitments to women, Alhaji Ibrahim Koroma of the SLPP said that, his party has a comfortable place for women. He maintained that the SLPP stands for democracy and good governance and therefore upholds the importance of women participation.
“It is sad to say that so much intimidation is going on and his party is not aware” he said in reference to the statements made by the APC organizing Secretary. He however assured the forum that whatever is agreed upon his party will abide by it.
Mr. Koroma revealed that, it is not the fault of the political parties for the level of women participation but that women are shy to come forward.
Founding member of the PMDC Esther Panda said “We in the PMDC recognize that women make up 52% of the population but yet still they are marginalized.”
Being a new party, she said, the PMDC dished out 49 symbols to women nationally and one Mayoral candidate for the Freetown City Council (FCC).
She pointed out that the PMDC has put mechanism in place to help women in their campaign, noting that if women participation is utilized then this country will be better. In his statement the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Tamba Gbekie said that elections in Africa either local or national has a perception of violence.
He noted that the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) is fully aware of the traditional perception about women, stating that as aprofessional force “we fully support CGG in gender balance in politics.”
The Inspector General (IG), Brima Acha Kamara, AIG Gbekie said has made security arrangements for during and after the elections.
AIG Gbekie maintained that the SLP is committed more than ever before and that they have the resources and mandate to deal with any tension that might occur.
He encouraged aspirants to report any incident of intimidation to the nearest police station in their locality and advised them to inform the police before they start their campaign for security purposes. The outreach officer of NEC Miatta French said that, the issue of intimidation is common and that any one intimidated should report to NEC. She admonished them to be strong and attack instead of defending themselves. Delivering his keynote address Solomon Brima of the PPRC disclosed that his organization has put mechanisms in place to ensure that women are protected. He added that, PPRC has done every thing for women not only taking part in elections but to ensure they are also protected.
Mr. Brima called on political parties to change their attitude and asked them to refrain from intimidation against women. Women are Sierra Leoneans and have the right to vote and be voted for and they are important in our society said Mr. Brima.
He further cautioning that it is unfair for some people and government to destroy the image of this country.
Mr. Gibril Sesay from the department of Sociology at Fourah Bay College (FBC) gave a brief presentation on the role and importance of women participation in politics and decision making.