Election Violence in Sierra Leone: How to Ensure a Peaceful and Fair Vote.
By Bhai-Dhawa Sesay; March 4, 2023.
The small West African nation of Sierra Leone is getting ready for its next general elections on June 24, 2023. Election violence, however, has a history in the country and has tainted previous elections. Fair and peaceful elections are important for Sierra Leone’s stability, growth, and the well-being of its people. In this post, I’ll look at the reasons behind the violence that stained the previous elections and what we may do to prevent it in the future.
Election violence in Sierra Leone: Underlying Reasons
There are several historical, political, economic, and social factors that can be linked to the violence in Sierra Leone’s elections. In the past, the country has had a lot of political trouble, including a civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002. Extreme violence, like using children as soldiers, cutting off limbs, and raping, was the norm during the war. The effects of the civil war are still being felt today, and they have helped to create a culture of violence in the country.
Political factors also have a significant impact on election violence in Sierra Leone. The All People’s Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) are the two main political parties in the country. Because of their rivalry, there has been a lot of violence between these two parties, especially during election season. Lack of transparency and accountability in the election process has also made people feel like they are being treated unfairly, which has led to election violence.
Economic factors also play a role in electoral violence. One of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty in the entire world. Youth are often involved in election violence because they don’t have enough work opportunities.
Things like tribalism and regionalism also affect the violence that happens during elections. Around 16 different ethnic groups are in the country, each with its own language and culture. When people think the political process is unfair, it often leads to violence along tribal and regional lines.
Effects of Election Violence in Sierra Leone
The violence that happened during the elections has had a big effect on Sierra Leone’s government, society, and economy. Violence during elections makes the voting process less legitimate, which makes people lose faith in the democratic system. It creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that makes people less likely to speak out or get involved in politics.
Election-related violence has a big influence on society. It can cause damage to property and people’s lives, as well as long-term splits in the community. Violence at an election can have devastating effects on people’s minds, leaving them with trauma, anxiety, and depression if they were there or saw it.
The economic effects of electoral violence are also substantial. It may cause the destruction of businesses and infrastructure and discourage foreign investment. This may make Sierra Leone’s economic challenges much worse.
Strategies to Guarantee a Fair and Peaceful Election
We can do several things to make sure that the elections are peaceful and fair. Promoting peaceful elections requires a focus on awareness-raising and education. Voter education may foster a culture of nonviolence and help citizens understand their rights and obligations. The importance of democratic values like free and fair elections can be better understood by citizens with the aid of civic education.
In order to guarantee fair and peaceful elections, security measures are also essential. The police and military can help stop violence and make sure that the elections are safe and secure. We can also use technology, like electronic voting machines, to make sure that the voting process is clear and reliable.
With the help of international observers and support, we can also make sure the elections are peaceful and fair. International groups like the African Union, the European Union, and the United Nations can help with technical and financial issues and can also send observers to monitor the voting process. During the election season, security and stability may also depend on help from countries close by.
In conclusion, a free and fair election is very important for the stability and growth of Sierra Leone. Although the causes of election violence are many, historical, political, economic, and social variables might be involved. Violence during an election has a lot of bad effects on the country’s democracy, society, and economy. Still, there are things we can do, like taking security precautions, having foreign observers, and getting help to make sure that the elections are free and fair.
The government and civil society must work together to make sure that June 24, 2023, elections are fair and peaceful and to promote a culture of nonviolence and democratic values throughout the country’s political process.