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Youths condemn violence and ‘political stronghold’ in Sierra Leone

Youths condemn violence and ‘political stronghold’ in Sierra Leone

The youths of Sierra Leone have taken the venture to be on the forefront to kick hell against violence and the so-called political stronghold syndrome, which are identified as the main causes bringing young to be involved in immoral activities. (Photo: Bernard Conteh of Anti-Violence Movement, and Salieu Kargbo of National Youth Coalition)

The Anti-Violence Movement (AVM) and the National Youth Coalition (NYC) are currently engaged in regional consultations with young people in order to address the negative vices that lead to violence in the electoral process. The two organizations are network movements of various youth organizations in the country. They have been working over the years to increase youth potential, creativity and skills towards national development and also to transform the mentality and attitude of young people in Sierra Leone.

After recognizing the fact that politicians have succeeded in dividing the entire country into regional strongholds, their supporters are most times using the popular music titled ‘na my area’, to prevent their opponent from entering their communities. A series of meetings were recently held in Kenema in Eastern Sierra Leone and Bo City in the South, where youth leaders and the media were brought together to share the aspirations of the two organizations.

The AVM and the NYC read a press release dated 6th March 2012 and signed by Berbard Conteh and Saliue A.B. Kargbo on behalf of the AVM and NYC respectively. The release strongly condemns all political parties or individuals who are involved in political and social violence in the country. “We totally and absolutely with those political parties or individuals whose main aim is to frighten investors and attempt to create unrest,” the release states, and went on to note that they have identified one of the main factor responsible for political and social intolerance which most times leads to political violence emanated from the political culture of ‘political strongholds’.

Sierra Leone, they stated is a united and peaceful country where no political party has a stronghold. “There is no region, district or chiefdom which belongs to any political party thus the citizens are custodians of the sovereignty of Sierra Leone,” the youths stated. They went on to reveal that preaching political strongholds can lead to regional and district violence which is not good for the country.

The youths called on the respective security apparatus in the country to immediately respond to the subject of strongholds which has the political marginal propensity of seeing regions breaking away from the central government.

“We are condemning by warning all those political parties including the APC and SLPP to desist from preaching the subject of strongholds. The APC has the moral right to campaign in any part of the South and East which is claimed by the SLPP as their stronghold. Subsequently, SLPP has the moral right to campaign in the North and West which is claimed by APC,” the youths warned. Such moral rights, according to the organizations noted that such moral rights are also extended to political parties like the PMDC, UDM, NDA, PLD, CDP and RUFP.

Secretary General of the Youth Coalition, Salieu A.B Kargbo said young people have a greater role to play in the community to ensure a positive democracy and tolerance, which are food for development of any country. He noted that young people are in the vast majority that will vote in a government. The NYC Secretary General reiterated the fact that it’s time for young people to prepare for a brighter future. “Let us don’t allow politicians to contaminate our focused minds with their negative ideologies of perpetrating violence or use their so-called stronghold syndrome to destroy the country. We don’t want youths to be used as a tool to destroy their own communities for politicians’ selfish desire,” he said, and added that it’s time to say no to violence and political stronghold.

Youth Leaders and other stakeholders in Bo City

The National Director of AVM, Bernard Conteh admonished youth leaders and the press to take the message at community level. He reiterated the fact that without political tolerance, the entire country will never be developed. He informed the youths that his movement and the NYC are currently working with the Sierra Leone Police to arrest any individual that perpetrates violence, which has become a menace in society. He said Sierra Leoneans should see each other as brothers and sisters and discourage violence in their communities. Mr. Conteh encouraged all political parties in the country to unite so that the entire country will have a brighter future.

The two organizations presented copies of posters that contained the photo of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in green outfit and the SLPP Leader, Maada Bio in red.

A similar meeting is expected to take place in Makeni and other parts of the country.

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