The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles drew attention to the wave of violence and intolerance that has gripped the nation in the aftermath of the elections. She maintained that some people have failed to respect the rights of others to belong to a political party of their choice. ‘All of us cannot belong to one political party because it will defeat the essence of multi-party democracy,’ she said.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles told the church leaders that they have a critical role in promoting reconciliation in their communities after the elections. She urged them to use their sermons to first reconcile their congregations and then the community.
‘People are still angry and this is causing a lot of tension in the community,’ Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said. ‘Members of your congregation have a role to play. They should be an example to others by the way they conduct themselves in terms of reconciling with others and how they touch the lives of members of their community.’
Speaking on the gravity of the situation, Carlton-Hanciles said the Legal Aid Board will be providing legal assistance to over 300 election related cases around the country. ‘We do not want this number to increase because we do not have enough lawyers to defend election related cases at the moment. ‘This is why we want you to come onboard because Sierra Leoneans are very religious and take very seriously what they are told by their spiritual leaders.’
Reverend Issa Bangura of the Church of God of Prophecy said he has been alarmed at the intolerance and violence in the community which has made him to think twice about letting his kids out into the community.
Reverend Amadu Kamara of the Covenant House of Prayer said religious leaders have a responsibility to put an end post-election violence. He assured all that they will use the influence they have over their members to ensure peace and reconciliation in the community.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Reverend Francis John of Winners Chapel, Reverend Mark of City of Refuge and Pastor Andrew Moseray of Christ Family Crusaders.