Sierra Leone’s Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC) has officially banned all political street rallies for forthcoming elections across the country.
The Commission in a press statement said it has convened a meeting of all registered political parties, electoral management bodies, security sector actors, civil society organisations and the press, with an invitation extended to its development partners who were in attendance.
The purpose of the meeting according to the Commission was to evaluate the essence of street rallies and discuss the requirements political parties are to meet, to enable them effectively execute the third limb of the purpose for their establishment, as encapsulated in Section 35(1) of the 1991 Constitution, which is to sponsor candidates for presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.
The PPRC said over the years, street rallies have occasioned immeasurable hardship on the peace-loving people of Sierra Leone, adding that they threatened public safety, public peace, public morality and infringed on fundamental rights of others, inclusive of the primary right, which is the right to life.
“The unfortunate death in Tonko Limba, the attack on the person and property of a Political opponent in Constituency 110, the debasing obscenities in Koinadugu and Kono and the affray in Samaya Bendugu and Koya, are some of the disturbing disquiets the public is made to endure, in the course of these Street Rallies.
“Also, instructive to note is the fact that, the ethnic regional rhetoric, tribal slurs, hate-speech and intemperate languages peddled by some politicians and their attack dogs on social media, have rendered our politics very toxic. Tensions are rife and thus imperative on all of us, to adopt appropriate measures to defuse them. Further, electioneering periods are no time for dancing and merriment.
“They are times for deep reflections and evaluation of our politicians. Cognisant of that fact and freeloading on the gullibility of our people, politicians have over the years, effectively used those street circuses, to blur the thought process of the electorates, particularly the young ones, by the use of narcotics and other intoxicants.
“They get to the campaign designations in drunken stupor, completely devoid of any intellect, to comprehend the messages (if any), from their candidates.” PPRC stated.
It went on that consequent upon the above, the Commission is of the view that, people are deserving better from their political parties and that nobody deserves to die or suffer incalculable loss, because of the political aspirations of another.
The Commission said question was therefore put to all in attendance, whether we maintain them and own up to their outcome, in line with the sanctions now prescribed in the Political Parties Act No.25 of 2022, against those conducts complained of or in the alternative, we ban them and rally in designated areas.
It said after extensive deliberations, the political parties in pursuit of public safety, public peace and public morality, in protection of the rights of others and the preservation of the State, as envisioned in Section 26(2)(a)(i&ii) of the 1991 Constitution.
In addition to the street rallies ban, the meeting also resolved that political parties assemble and conduct their campaigns in designated areas, with appropriate security coverage.
It was also resolved that the Electoral Management Bodies and the security sector actors develop guidelines on the enforcement of the ban, with a view to ensuring fairness and parity of interest; that government evenly makes available appropriate State infrastructure to all political parties and at no cost, for the conduct of their campaigns; and that political parties adopt appropriate actions geared towards the fulfilment of the nomination criteria.