Makeni endorses political tolerance
The people of the Bombali District Headquarter town, Makeni, have on Tuesday October 25th, 2011 outrightly condemned all forms of political violence and wholeheartedly endorsed the practice of political tolerance among members of registered parties for the forthcoming 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections. (Photo: Political party representatives actively taking part on the political tolerance sensitization in Makeni)
They made this declaration on Tuesday at the Makeni City Hall during a sensitization programme on political tolerance that was organized by the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) Secretariat.
Welcoming participants the Deputy Mayor of Makeni City, Mrs. Isatu Fofanah accentuated the significance of the sensitization programme towards national development. She called on those present to reflect on the disadvantages of political violence on the well-being of innocent and defenseless citizens.
Madam Fofanah cited the precious political commotions in Bo and Kono among others as typical examples of Sierra Leoneans unpreparedness to learn from retrogressions the past bloody rebel war steered. The devastating war which the Deputy Mayor claimed was sparked by political segregation should serve as a lesson. She noted that the same negative attitudes and behaviours that culminated to the past civil unrest are still rearing their ugly head in today’s politics. This scenario she maintained is worrying, since it keeps rendering Sierra Leone to be internationally classed as a fragile state thus scaring away investors and other development partners. Madam Fofanah thanked the ABC Secretariat for initiating a countrywide dialogue among contending political parties in order for them to coin out possible solutions to the mortifying potentials of the absence of political broadmindedness. She assured that if political leaders and their supporters properly absorb and implement the virtues of political tolerance then the 2012 elections and other succeeding ones will be free, fair and peaceful.
Chairing the interactive ABC Secretariat’s sensitization programme which succeeded to converge all political parties, Mr. Mohammed Slyvanus Koroma remarked that although the political climate within Bombali District is relatively non-violent as compared to other districts, it is still necessary that the people of the region especially the youth who are usually vulnerable to politicians’ incitements, be given awareness on political tolerance. The Chairman cautioned against intra and inter-political upheavals. These political characteristics which have become rampant, Mr. M.S Koroma said, are undermining the country’s germane democratic process.
The Regional Elections Officer-North, Aiah Quiwa, in his keynote address underscored the importance of political tolerance to democratic dispensations worldwide. He described political tolerance as the willingness to extend basic rights and civil liberties to persons and groups whose viewpoints are different but not at variance with national development. The Elections Officer-North termed political tolerance as a central tenet of liberal democracy. “In a democratic state, political tolerance is a must because it provides the political space to all shades of opinion and gives credence to the democratic and political process”, Aiah Quiwa stated, adding “political conflicts the world over have their root causes in the lack of political tolerance”. He said political pluralism, which must state actors are failing to be in terms with, is the gateway for political tolerance. As a nation state, Aiah Qwiwa called on Sierra Leoneans to realize that there can be political unity despite political diversity.
According to him the ABC Secretariat task on redirecting the political perception of Sierra Leoneans is a daunting task. However, he noted that the Secretariat cause will chart a way forward for development aspirations because the issue of bad attitudes and behaviors is a cankerworm which pervades the length and breadth of the country. He promised the ABC Secretariat of his institutions’ support to curb political violence before, during, and after the 2012 elections.
In his statement the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party representative, Yakumba Jalloh cried against the conspicuous lack of political tolerance in other parts of the country. The Bombali District he confirmed boasts of political tolerance. He described the APC as a party that believes in peace and cooperating with other political parties for the common good of the nation. He said although Bombali is considered as the APC’s political stronghold other opposition parties are enjoying their basic freedom of association, movement and verbal communication.
On his part the Publicity Secretary of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in Makeni, Abdulai Mansaray blamed unregistered party supporters and sympathizers as main orchestrators of violence .
The Chairman of People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) party, Thomas Bangura commended President Koroma for his intuition to establish the ABC Secretariat to marshal his Agenda for Change. He called on compatriots that the best way they can demonstrate their readiness for change is by practicing political tolerance, desisting from corrupt practices, and showing respect for time and state properties.
“Politicians must see themselves as partners in development rather than enemies”, the Chairman of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) party, Ibrahim Kalokoh stressed.
Introducing the concept of ABC, the Executive Director of ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan Agibola Thomas informed participants that the major cause for the lack of political tolerance is the disregard for laws. He advised political activist to refrain from misconstruing criminality for politicking. Dr. Thomas stated in their quest for power, political bigwigs are fond of misguiding disadvantaged youths by inducing them with drugs to wreak havoc on people they perceive as a threat. He warned the youth to rebrand their insulting position and national politics since they have the responsibility of playing a vital role in governance in the not too distant future.
Dr. Thomas emphasized that the ABC Secretariat frowns at the lack of political tolerance and calls on all and sundry to work relentlessly to weed it from the country’s political arena.
Schooling participants on the negative aspects of subjective political rivalry among parties, the National Coordinator and Second-in-Command of ABC Secretariat, Mrs. Nanette Thomas said the adoption of positive attitudes and behaviours will provide an answer to this problem. She admonished that in political contests, losers must be ready to accept defeat, while winners on their part should embrace losers. She advised against provocation, use of abusive language and violent activity during electioneering. Madam Thomas urged political leaders to serve as role models for their supporters and sympathizers. She advised that in contemporary democracy, the power lies in the hands of the masses. Madam Thomas enticed voters to see prospect in surrendering their franchise to contestants whom they believe possess the attributes of astute leadership. She concluded by tagging political violence as a breach of the constitutional rights of citizens and a major cause of socio-economic backwardness.
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