The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone on Wednesday 20th July 2022 has concluded a three-day stakeholders’ consultative meeting on electoral process in Sierra Leone. The three days meeting which started on the 18th July 2022 was held at the CCSL Headquarters King Harman Road, Brookfield.
The meeting hosted heads of churches, Muslim leaders, Civil Society, and election experts. Chaired by the current President of CCSL, Rev. Henry A. Samuels, the training, and workshop was facilitated by election experts from the Center for Election and Civil Education including the Deputy Director of CECE, Madam Augusta Bockarie, Tejan S. Kabba and Macksood G. Sesay.
Speaking at the closing day of the three days Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Electoral Process, Keizier Kargbo, General Secretary of CCSL gave a brief background about the meeting.
She said that the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone conducted the workshop for religious leaders on the electoral process and to consult them on the Public Elections Act which is currently under debate in the well of Parliament, pointing out that when the religious leaders have the knowledge on the Public Elections Act and the knowledge on the election process, they will be able to participate better.
She further went on to acknowledge the effort of the religious leaders towards the three days meeting and stated that the meeting is a beginning of the electoral process for CCSL. She also noted that CCSL will continue to consult where it is necessary to ensure that the 2023 election process is carried out smoothly.
“We do not have anything to give you as a church, but we want to give back to the Nation. This is our own contribution in making the 2023 election a peaceful one that will benefit each and every citizen.” She concluded.
Reading the statement by the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone on the development towards the election of June 2023, the President of CCSL Rev Henry A. Samuels gave an introduction stating that the CCSL started in 1924 as the United Christian Council (UCC) with a membership of seven Churches.
According to the CCSL statement, the current membership has grown to twenty-four members and nine affiliates. The CCSL statement went on to state that the council has one of its strategic directions – promoting good governance with three broad activities namely: Supporting peace with justice activities, supporting the consolidation of democracy, and building effective leadership of the council.
The statement also reads that by participating in the country’s election process as observers and monitor, the CCSL aims to promote citizens’ participation and generally public life, encourage peaceful campaign and election environment, to deter possible election irregularities and fraud, make recommendation to Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone and report findings to the commission and the public in accurate and timely manner.
As stated in the statement, the primary concern of a non-partisan group like the CCSL in participating in the election process the nation is to protect the integrity of the electoral process regardless of who wins of loses.
Rev. H.A. Samuels also red that it is in preparation for a positive involvement in the electoral process the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone has organized over the past six weeks a series of consultative workshops facilitated by experts in both the legal and electoral field.
The workshop involved primarily leaders of the two principal Faiths in the country – Christianity and Muslim. The statement also states that, those workshop participants reviewed Government White Paper on the recommendation of the Justice Cowan Constitutional Review Commission; critically examined the proposed Public Elections Bill and the constitutional provisions with regards the electoral system that are operative in our country.
The CCSL President highlighted the stance of the council which states that the Council notes that the necessary amendment has been made to the Local Government Act thus making it legally possible to Local Government Elections in tandem with Presidential and Parliamentary Election.
That the Council is cognizant of the current debates on the electoral systems as contained in our constitution. CCSL regards this as a positive demonstration of the level in which country’s democracy has attained.
That the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone is following keenly the ongoing debate on the Public Elections Bill and notes that there are a few issues that need to be made clear not least the benefit of the populace.
Rev. Henry A. Samuels concluded that, CCSL is an organization that has pride itself as the voice for the voiceless, and on the successes, it has achieved as an Advocacy Group, pointing out that in all of these, the interest of the populace must be the priority of all concerned.