What could have resulted in to another bloodshed amongst political supporters in Kono, Koidu in the mid of June this year, was fortunately averted by police prompt intervention. However the severity of the incident was so serious that the United Nations office in Sierra Leone, was left with no option but to investigate the root cause of the issue and if possible to find solutions to it.
Speaking to the people of Kono, the UN special representative said the existence of true democracy in Sierra Leone and more especially in Kono, depend upon the people of Kono themselves and not foreigners. Mr. Michael Schulenburg said it is important when all political parties show a common understanding by accepting one another. He said a kind of solidarity would be enough to bring the people together. The UN Secretary General Special Representative said it is the responsibility of all leaders of all parties to talk to their supporters and strictly admonished them against violence.
Mr. Michael Schulenburg however did not rule out minor argument and exchange of hard words amongst politicians. He said even in the United States some of these things are common. He also called on political parties and supporters to have respect for institutions such as NEC, PPRC, SLP, and the District Code of Conduct monitoring committee. Mr. Schulenburg said his presence in Kono is not to pass judgment on any political party but to ensure that the rule of democracy is upheld
Representing the British High Commission the Deputy High Commissioner Rachel Cooper said the good reputation the people of Sierra Leone have got with regards to the good conduct of elections, shouldn’t be misused over this Local Elections. She said the people of Sierra Leone have shown much respect for religious tolerance. “And if that is the case then both political and religious tolerance must be combined as one.” Miss Cooper said Sierra Leone would stand to lose a lot if the outcome of the election is not credible.
Statements from political representatives and other stakeholders formed part of the occasion. From the ruling party, the Secretary General for Kono district said the APC is determined to promote democracy in Kono. Mr. Francis Gbondo Panepani said the coming of democracy to Sierra Leone, was propounded by the APC through Late Dr. J.S. Momoh.
He said the violence and intimidation that is roaming the whole of Kono could not be attributed to the making of APC alone. He cited so many instances where the SLPP supporters had inflicted injuries against APC members. Mr. Gbondo said the SLPP knew they are going to lose and that was why they are building up so many allegations against the ruling party.
From the SLPP wing, the District Chairman from his letter of protest addressed to the UN office in Kono and other stakeholders of the district, clearly out lined that the SLPP would withdraw if the ruling APC fail to 1. See Kono as a one party district 2. Fail to obey campaign ethics and electoral code. 3. If there is no security apparatus to protect party candidate, ballot boxes and supporters.
However in the course of the meeting, it was just the same point the SLPP chairman re-emphasized and he said his party would not move an inch away from those points.
The police which was the center of blame by all parties, had their representative Mustapha Kambeh, the LUC Motema giving his assurance to Mr. Schulenburg and team that the police will do all it can to see to it that the outcome of the election is violence free.
Mr. Kambeh said the Inspector General of police had assured him of a good number of police deployment in Kono before the election. Ambassador Schulenburg also had time to meet with female candidates of political parties, where a lot of complains which most of these women are going through were also brought forward.
By Jon-Bu in Kono