Many related trainings on electioneering process have been jointly facilitated and all geared towards the realization of a transparent, credible and violence free elections in 2018. For a period of one month, twelve trainers from different districts were coached on democratic principles that will steer an ideal environment for the next general election.
Training facilitators were drawn from affiliate democratic institutions including higher learning institutions, Inter Religious Council of Sierra Leone and the Association Rondine Cittadella Della Pace International Peace Lab Alumni.
In her presentation, Jessica Hallak, a facilitator and member of the Association Rondine Cittadella Della Pace Alumni International Peace Lab, said she was impressed with the level of commitment and sacrifice exhibited by the participants during the course of the training.
She added that such an attentive commitment demonstrates how prepared and willing Sierra Leoneans are to participate in a free and fair elections come 2018. Hallak pointed out that for good governance to be achieved in any country, citizens have a key role to play in every democratic process, and participating in a four week intensive training by 12 participants’ right across the country is a demonstration of such a patriotic mindset.
Giving an overview of the governance system in Sierra Leone, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Makeni stated that the first general elections after the one party rule system in the country was held in 1996.
Professor Joseph Turay further explained that at the end of the devastating civil conflict in 2002, one of the most peaceful and participatory general election was conducted and that democratic process returns the country to normalcy after a decade of civil unrest.
In 2004, he reiterated, local councils were reintroduced and this brought the establishment of 19 local councils across the country.
With this democratic dispensation Prof. Turay went on, many people are with the view that though Sierra Leone is a nescience democracy but it is gradually improving in term of good governance. Examples of such an accolade were in 2007 and 2012 multi-tier elections which were rated as best elections ever conducted in Sierra Leone.
Director of Human Resource – UNIMAK opined that outcomes of previous elections have shown that many voters lacked awareness or knowledge on electoral processes and the relevance attached on active participation in electioneering activities.
Veronica Kamara substantiated that during electoral processes like voters registration, voting periods and among others, some Sierra Leoneans would deliberately distance themselves from such crucial times. As such, she emphasized, Rondine and the University of Makeni are jointly collaborating in order to raise awareness campaigns among the lots on the importance of electoral participation by every citizen of a given country.
Participants expressed their satisfaction on the four weeks exercise stating that, the sessions were an eye opener to actively involve in the incoming election process.
Antony Newman Levey a participant from Bo District expressed that the training was a unique opportunity that has broadened his horizon in terms of monitoring and reporting electoral events.
Margaret Dauda from Freetown commented that the training exercise was timely and educative as it enlightened her on the various electoral management bodies and their respective roles in electioneering processes. She therefore affirmed that they would replicate the lessons learnt to their respective localities so that outcome of the 2018 general elections will be another litmus test for our sustainable democracy and good governance system in Sierra Leone.