Dads for dignity – Father’s Day Celebration
June 28, 2018
#YE4GOOD YMCA World Council 2018 in Chiang Mai, THAILAND
July 9, 2018

2018 General Election and the Role of Sierra Leone YMCA Before, During and After Elections

By Mustapha Momoh, Communications Volunteer, Sierra Leone YMCA

The 2018 General Elections was one of the most keenly contested elections in the history of Sierra Leone. The elections were the first organized since the end of the civil war in 2002 in the absence of  a United Nations peacekeeping mission and the second under the 1991 constitution in which an incumbent president  was not a contestant for the presidency.

The campaign period was generally calm, allowing parties to mobilize supporters and communicate with the general public using different media approaches, although several violent incidents during the campaign period raised concerns

The media being an essential part to democracy played a significant role in providing the platform for political campaign messages, voter education and in the discharge of its watchdog role

The electoral management bodies performed their constitutional duties in a competent and impartial manner. However, preparations for the 2018 election were marked by operational challenges resulting from a late disbursement of funding by the government, and an overcrowded electoral calendar. Consequently, they had to accomplish too many activities especially in 2017 and its operation was unnecessarily put under pressure by competency disputes over voter registration and the government’s enforcement of the new administrative districts shortly after the boundary delimitation was concluded

None of the Presidential Candidates were able to attain the 55% constitutional threshold of winning Presidential elections in First round. This automatically set the stage for a Run-off election between the two candidates with the highest number of percentage in a period of two weeks upon the announcement of the first round result

The two weeks was again marred by a temporarily court injunction from the High Court preventing NEC to commence preparations leading to the conduct of the March 31st Run-off election

The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Sierra Leone which was founded in 1912 is one of the oldest and one of the largest youth serving agencies in Sierra Leone; YMCA prides itself in churning out diverse programmes and creates opportunities for young people to reach their full potential.

In a bid to achieve our mandates, we need an environment that is peaceful and violence free as we roll out our activities. It was on this basis and in the drive to support government’s agenda for non-violence and peaceful 2018 elections that YMCA played a significant role before, during and after the general elections

BEFORE THE ELECTIONS

In our effort to contribute to a non-violence and peaceful 20118 Elections, YMCA SL before the Elections established and built the capacity of 100 YMCA youth volunteers known as Peace Ambassadors by providing them with professional training on peace building approach at community level, political conflict resolution in conflict communities, mediating and reporting on human rights issues within the western region. The Western Region is known for its high level of political violence

100 YMCA Peace Ambassadors conducted one peace concert/streets rally within the major central streets of the capital city with peace massages on placards, peaceful election campaign music in a bid for young people to take leadership role and participate in democratic governance process in western region

Owing to the role of the media, YMCA Youth Ambassadors embarked on mass media engagement through radio talk show, television show on peace building and good leadership. The massages by the youth volunteers were to ensure young people take the lead in the democratic process of the State and for young people be able to consolidate peace before and after the election

The youth Ambassadors embarked on massive house to house campaign on non-violence in a form of social mobilization within the violence prone communities within the Western Region of Sierra Leone

NONVIOLENCE CAMPAIGN IN SCHOOLS

YMCA Sierra Leone did non-violence campaign in senior secondary schools across Kenema to help complement government’s effort in reducing violence during and after elections. The campaign was accompanied by drama and short play depicting the effects of elections violence in Sierra Leone

SYMPOSIUM

There had been an increase and frequent threats posed by cliques and gang boys who had for some financial gains identified themselves with political parties and has become a menace to the to the peace and stability of the nation  which increases tensions as the elections got closer and closer. Therefore, Eastern Region of YMCA Sierra Leone, thought it fit to organize a symposium and create a platform where political parties representatives came together to assure the youth, women and children, adults disables and uprights, and the aged about a peaceful, free fair, credible and violence free election in March 7 2018

DURING THE ELECTIONS

On Elections day, YMCA Sierra Leone was accredited by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) the body responsible for the conduct of elections in Sierra Leone to observe the entire elections day. In the morning of 7th March, 2018 YMCA sent in Observers in the Eastern and Southern Districts headquarter towns of Bo and Kenema to observe and report any forms of electoral malpractices

Whilst observing on elections day, YMCA used the opportunity to preach peace and the need for all parties to accept the outcome of the elections in the interest of Sierra Leone with a slogan “After all, it is a victory for Sierra Leone”. We were commended by National Electoral Commission and the security sector for such a timely intervention. YMCA was also able to mediate minor violence and report major violent in polling stations. By and large, the entire elections day was relatively peaceful and calm as Sierra Leoneans peacefully returned back home after they have voted; although there were incidences of violence at some polling stations which the Security apparatus were able to handle professionally

AFTER THE ELECTIONS

As none of the Presidential Candidates were able to attain the 55% constitutional threshold of winning Presidential elections in First round; consequently set the stage for a Run-off election amongst the two candidates with the highest number of percentage in a period of two weeks upon the announcement of the first round result

The two weeks was again marred by a temporarily court injunction from the High Court preventing NEC to commence preparations leading to the conduct of the March 31st Run-off election and an increase in hate and tribal messages by the two main political parties (the now Incumbent SLPP and the Main opposition APC party)

The outbreak of Post-Election violence in Sierra Leone after the keenly contested presidential elections was a major pointer to the existence of schisms that had been left unaddressed for long.  These provided both the long-term and short-term causes of the violence which has a major drawback on Sierra Leone’s socio-economic and political development

Attainment of national cohesion is in one of the visions of Sierra Leone under the Pillar of Security, Peace Building and Conflict Management. To achieve this, the strategy stipulates, “(i) promoting processes for national and intercommunity dialogue in order to build harmony among ethnic, racial and other interest groups

Therefore, YMCA Makeni, Northern Sierra Leone and the Youth Power Space volunteers in Makeni embarked on a non-violence parade in the City of Makeni immediately after the announcement of the First round elections result

It was another medium to tell the rest of the indigenes especially the youth and the two main political parties; the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the All People’s Congress party (SLPP and APC) to ensured violence and defiant from hate and tribal messages as we are one United Sierra Leone who knows no political barrier

Similarly so, the Western Region of YMCA Sierra Leone continued their non-violence and peaceful 2018 drive with the theme: “We are One Family, Elections should not divide us”. This message again continued right through to the run-off election; before the run off and with the emergence of tribal and hate messages, the YMCA youth Ambassadors embarked on a house to house and streets to streets sensitization tour reminding Sierra Leoneans that ethnicity has no place in our body politics

After the run-off elections, Sierra Leoneans across the country were eagerly awaiting the announcement of result by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), YMCA Youth Ambassadors in the Western region embarked on a street parade urging and pleading to Sierra Leoneans to accept the outcome of the elections by NEC; Also, preaching and reminding them that it is Sierra Leone that wins and not SLPP or Peace. The peace ambassadors targeted violence prone communities within the western region.

Annexes- Photo gallery

Non-violence campaign in Secondary Schools     

  

Non-violence campaign in the streets of Makeni

NONVIOLENCE CAMPAIGN IN SCHOOLS

YMCA Sierra Leone did non-violence campaign in senior secondary schools across Kenema to help complement government’s effort in reducing violence during and after elections. The campaign was accompanied by drama and short play depicting the effects of elections violence in Sierra Leone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *