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By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

Foremost, God, our creator, is very interested in the welfare of his children. Our politicians must not pretend they have the people’s interests at heart more than the creator of the universe.

He says in Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans of welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (RVS)

Do you believe this? Well, that is reality. Let those aspiring for power and control get some new education. No political party or politician is worth dying for because the welfare, the future, and the hope of Sierra Leone ultimately do not lie in their hands but in the hands of God. They must realise that they’re only stewards or managers of the state’s resources.

Public office is not an avenue for theft and ill-gotten wealth creation, as some have shown in Sierra Leone. It’s about selfless service to your nation and people. It’s an oath you make to God and man to be upright and diligent in managing the resources efficiently and effectively for maximum national benefit. Understanding this basic spiritual principle is the most important foundation to lie on before embarking on seeking the mandate of the people through peaceful elections.

Why and how must we ensure peaceful elections?

We must ensure peaceful elections because peace is God’s idea and forms the basis for national development. Peace secures the future and destinies of nations. Peace builds unity and togetherness. The opposite is true. Disruptive elections destroy lives and properties. Disruptive elections impoverish not just a people but many generations to come. It leads to an uncertain future for children and youth. Trained and productive human capital is lost, and many more setbacks ensue.

How can we ensure peaceful elections?

Peaceful elections are not dependent on just one group alone working to ensure peace but on a multiplicity of bodies, structures, and individuals working diligently to ensure a peaceful process before, during, and after the elections. However, it will take the action or inaction of just one body, group, or individual to disrupt the elections.

To the politicians and their political parties

Election to public office should not be a do-or-die affair, nor is it about winning power at any cost. It is not about character assassination or inciting one group against another. It is not about using hate speech or indecent language. It is a battle of ideas. The battle of winning the hearts and minds of the electorate. The selling of genuine programmes and policies for bettering the lives of citizens.

Elections are about credibility, integrity, and trust in the candidates and teams with the requisite competencies to manage resources efficiently for most people. In ensuring peaceful elections, the conduct of politicians and party members is crucial to a successful election. Candidates declaring themselves winners before the official announcement by the electoral officer can be a dangerous path to take. The Ivory Coast is a good example of how entrenched positions taken by politicians after results are announced can plunge a beautiful country into anarchy. We believe our politicians have learned valuable lessons from the Ivory Coast.

For every competition, there are rules. Let those with the mandate of declaring results be the sole body to do so. Accept the results as announced; don’t make trouble because they’re not in your favour. This is where true leadership and respect for the rule of law come in. Opposing groups taking entrenched positions, especially the losing sides, do not augur well for national peace.

The Citizenry

This includes all legal members of the state. Registered voters, especially, must be responsible. We must obey the rules as they pertain to nationhood and elections. Voters must know all the processes involved in voting and all that is expected of them, checking and cross-checking for their vital personal information to ensure that everything has been captured.

Exercise your franchise, leave the scene peacefully, and go home to await the results later. Voting grounds are not the place for spreading rumour, campaigning, or arguing. When all comport themselves, a peaceful election is the ultimate result.

Observer Missions/Election Watchers

Observing the processes and reporting the facts is the purpose of this body. With a football game, we may describe them as the match commissioners. These officials watch every aspect of the game and submit a report to the proper authorities.

Some election watchers may have quite a lot of experience from other countries that they can bring to bear in elections. Their positive advice and direction can also help the overall electioneering process.

Ensuring peaceful elections is everyone’s business. The peace we all seek must be worked at carefully and diligently. The consequences of not having a peaceful election are very negative for Sierra Leone.

For individuals and parties seeking political leadership, elections are not a do-or-die affair. The nation needs to stay intact even after a very competitive process. The atmosphere will be competitive but must remain peaceful. Whether winners or non-winners, the nation remains one nation, one people, and one country with a common destiny.

Peace is possible when God and man work hand in hand.

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