The Archbishop of Freetown and Bo, Edward Tamba Charles has called on the twelve registered political parties that have been refusing to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for peaceful and fair elections to commit themselves.
In a bid to promote peaceful and fair elections in June 2023, the Inter-Religious Council in Sierra Leone (IRCSL) held a meeting with representatives of 17 registered political parties to convince them to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that might refrain them from use of violence during the upcoming national elections.
However, the President of IRCSL Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles said in an interview with AIC Africa that, the majority of the political parties including the current ruling party SLPP (Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party), and the main opposition party APC (All Peoples’ Congress) are yet to sign the MOU since July this year. He stated that only five out of Seventeen political parties have signed the MOU.
“After all our persuasion, only five of the political parties signed the MOU. Up to now, the other political parties, including the ruling SLPP, the main opposition APC, and others have not yet signed the MOU.” Archbishop Charles.
The Archbishop affirmed that the country had been witnessing some acts of violence situating civilians against the police and even among opposing parties in the house of parliament. Some of these, he said, had involved physical assault, with legislators throwing objects against each other in parliament.
He further mentioned that political parties should consider the peaceful state of the country and commit themselves to the MOU for Peace. He stated, there is no guarantee that parliamentarians who fight and insult each other in the honorable House of Parliament can not steer violent attacks in the upcoming elections.
“We had a very violent riot on 10th August 2022 that led to the loss of many lives. We have also seen MPs fighting and throwing things and insults at each other. If the Honorable Members of Parliament can fight each other in Parliament, what will stop them from organizing violent attacks at election time,” said Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles.
Moving forward, he said that what the IRCSL fears the most is that the June 2023 election may be full of intense violence with politicians being the biggest orchestrators.
“Our fears are many, such that; the electioneering campaigns might be marred by violence, the credibility of the elections might be undermined by the violence that might be orchestrated by some politicians, the country might be further divided on a tribal and ethnic basis, as some politicians are already doing,” Archbishop Charles said.
He also, appealed to the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone(ECSL) to do all that is humanly possible to ensure that the electoral process is free of corruption. He urged fellow Sierra Leoneans to vote for leaders who have the development of the country at heart and to resist the temptation to plunge the country into violence.
“ECSL let the electoral process be credible so that the results may be accepted by all. Let us (Sierra Leoneans) vote for the candidates we believe will work in the interest of our country and for its people. Let us also avoid the use of violence and hate speeches before, during, and after the elections. May we accept the results of the elections and allow the candidates that win to govern the country with our fullest cooperation,” Archbishop Charles told AIC Africa.