By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The All Political parties Association (APPA) has in a press statement issued on Monday 14th, January, urged the government to engage in effective and constructive dialogue with all political parties especially the main opposition party-All Peoples Congress as a way forward to address concerns about political intimidation and electoral –related violence among others.
According to the release from APPA, members of APPA were unanimous that the current political climate in Sierra Leone is achingly tense and constrained to the emergence of a number of complex challenges after the national elections and transfer of political power in April 2018 adding that they are convinced that if this trend continues, it may have serious implications for democratic consolidation, peace and economic stability in the near future.
‘’Therefore, APPA is calling on the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) , regional organizations and international development partners to seek apolitical solution through mediation and dialogue , help build national consensus on issues of common concern that have been or continues to be raised by various interest and pressure groups about the increase spate of political intimidation and electoral violence, level of distrust amongst political parties ,and the attempt to disenfranchise some members of parliament through electoral court, and the setting up of the commissions of Inquiry ,’’the release noted.
The release further noted that as part of its recommendations, for President Julius Maada Bio to appoint a chairperson and commissioners of the political parties Registration Commission (PPRC) adding that members of APPA envisage that the appointment of a chair and commissioners of PPRC will assist in building synergies and effective partnership with political parties as well as serve as a mechanism for regulating the conduct of the political parties and conflict resolution between political parties ,central government and the security sector.
‘’we reiterate that registered political parties with APPA fully support the commission of inquiry ,bearing in mind they will be conducted in an impartial, objective ,independent, fair ,and transparent manner for the benefit of all citizens ,irrespective of political party affiliations ,’’APPA recommended , adding that they believed that there is a lack of sufficient information on the mandate of the commissions of inquiry and therefore calling on the government to embark on public education ,awareness and sensitization campaigns about the COI to increase public trust and confidence and alleviate the fear that exercise is not a ‘’Witch-Hunt’’.
APPA further said they joined the inter-religious Council and the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) in calling on the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Justice and Chairman of the Rules of Court Committee to convene a meeting of the Rules of court Committee for purpose of carrying of carrying out its mandate under sections 145 and 15- of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.
‘’we, the members of APPA urge the security sector institutions, especially the Sierra Leone Police to desist from political intimidation based on ‘’orders from the above’’ , and to respect the leadership of political parties in Sierra Leone. APPA believes that the institution that has the mandate to summon the leadership of political parties in relation to their conduct is PPRC ‘’ APPA noted, stating that they believe that this institution will work with the security sector to constructively dialogue and amicably resolve issues that have the tendency to undermine the peaceful co-existence of the citizenry.
‘’Finally, the members of APPA believe that it is only by ‘’coming together that we can make a better Sierra Leone.’’ In our view, 2019 must be about political parties working together to advance the principles of democratic governance as a foundation for economic prosperity in Sierra Leone,’’ the release ended.
Chairperson of APPA, Dr. Jonathan Sandy, in his statement revealed that APPA has transformed from an ad hoc association to a legal and functional entity with their headquarters at Pademba Road adding that the institution now has a constitution and a registered certificate in the country.
He however said that APPA is calling for a National Dialogue Forum to serve as a platform for interactive and constructive engagement between parliamentarians, political parties, traditional leaders, private sector, the press and civil society organizations with the aim of seeking political solutions to issues of national interest and concern.