The representatives will be trained on the Public Elections Act 2012 with particular reference to electoral offences; Elections & Electoral Violence; Peace, Conflict and Violence; Causes of Electoral Violence, Disputes and Conflicts and Election Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Electoral Conflict Mitigation.
The Board’s consultant from the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Fourah Bay College, the University of Sierra Leone Madam Memunatu Pratt will deliver a paper on Election Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Electoral Conflict Mitigation and Peace, Conflict and Violence.
‘We have spent the past couple of weeks organizing the same workshop for our staff and partners – including the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Sierra Leone Motor Drivers Union, Traders Council, Football Associations, National Union of Ataya Bases, Sierra Leone Teachers Union, Sierra Leone Union of Photographers, Bike Riders Union, Council of Tribal Headmen, Tricycle/Kekeh Riders, Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone, Council of Paramount Chiefs, Youth and Women’s Organizations – across the country, thanks to the UNDP,’ the Executive Director of the Board Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles said.
‘We are having one for the Political parties because we believe they have a crucial role to play in the elections in terms of campaign messages, playing by the rules, observing the electoral laws, ensuring campaigns are free of violence, intimidation and threats and respect for the rights of voters to belong to political parties and vote for candidates of their choice.’
Mrs. Carlton-Hanciles said the clashes between supporters of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and the main opposition party the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) on Monday, November 6 on Howe Street in Freetown were a stark reminder about the challenges that lie ahead.
‘Information at our disposal point to the fact that the clashes stem from the destruction of a poster of one of the presidential candidates,’ she said, adding: ‘In the trainings we had with our partners we made it clear that destroying campaign materials of opponents is an electoral offence. We also warned them against relying on social media for news and information on the elections ’
According to the Ms. Carlton-Hanciles the Board is concerned that most of those used by the politicians to perpetrate violence and their victims are clients of the Board. ‘While the Board has made it very clear that it will not be providing legal assistance to those who are used by politicians to perpetrate violence, we also want to send a very clear message to the politicians that they will be held to account in both national and international courts for these crimes,’ she said. ‘We want the politicians to know that when they use our clients they come to the office and confide in us because they trust us.’
According to Ms. Carlton-Hanciles, the members of the motor drives union, Bike Riders Union, Tricycle/Kekeh Riders have been advised by the Board to be very professional in offering their services to political parties. This entails ensuring they do not offer their services for free. In addition, they should not wear party colours when offering such services. Also, there should be an undertaking on the part of the parties hiring their services to pay for any damages to their vehicle which occurs through no fault of theirs.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles has also revealed that the Board is working closely with its clients in the Sierra Leone Photographers Union to expose politicians who may be behind any election violence.