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Government Allays Fears of Electoral Violence in November Polls

Government Allays Fears of Electoral Violence in November Polls

“I can assure everyone that the November 17 elections in Sierra Leone will not only be free, fair and transparent, but will also be credible and peaceful,” said Hon. Sheka Tarawalie, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Information and Communication.  (Photo: L Hon. Sheka Tarawalie and Pastor in Charge Rev. Gibrilla Bangura [raising God before allaying fears of  election violence)

Speaking to about two hundred Sierra Leonean Christian worshipers at the “Christ is Lord” Church on Jefferson Davis Drive, Virginia, USA, on Sunday August 12th, 2012, the Minister, who doubles as Co-Government Spokesman, said “the schedule for elections is not in any way tantamount to preparation for war.  An election is not a do-or-die affair, wherein the alternative to losing any elections should be violence. The announcement of an election schedule is simply a call on electorates to begin preparing their minds to exercise their franchise”.

Hon. Sheka Tarawalie responding to a series of questions

Responding to questions and requests for assurances of peaceful elections from members of the congregation, Hon. Sheka Tarawalie said President Ernest Bai Koroma does not see any rationale for the destruction of Sierra Leone for elections reasons. The Co-Government spokesman re-echoed the President’s standpoint, “elections should not be taken as a matter of life and death, but a game which should be played by its rules”. He compared elections to the just concluded London 2012 Olympic Games strictly played by rules, whereby losers were gracious to accept defeat.

“One of the recipes for violent elections has been proven to be a direct consequence of people attempting to steal votes and interfere with the body charged with the responsibility of conducting elections. This we as a government have not done and have no intention of doing.”

The Church choir and the musical director Mustapha Bai Attila listening attentively to the Co-Government Spokesman

Minister Tarawalie said the National Electoral Commission has autonomy to do its work without any political interference, adding that the introduction of the biometric system has eliminated over-voting.

Hon Sheka Tarawalie recalled some bye elections conducted by the National Electoral Commission in different regions of the country which saw the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) losing and accepting defeat, “We did not fight and destroy our country.”

On good governance, he said, “Since we came to power, the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma has not charged any Sierra Leonean with the offence of treason. We have not arrested and jailed any journalist.”

He also asserted how the Government has given more credibility in the fight against corruption by not only giving autonomous powers to the Anti-Corruption Commission, but all public officials including the President and his Ministers declare their assets annually with the commission.

“Those Government officials who were convicted were prosecuted by the Commission without any interference by the government,” he noted.

Partial view of the front row at the Church

A side view of the Christ is Lord congregation

Another view of the Christ is Lord congregation in Virginia, USA

On security and peace during the elections, he maintained that, “Apart from members of different political parties meeting and discussing different issues including the need for peaceful elections, the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma does not underrate anything and we don’t take any situation for granted. I assure you again that there will be no room for violence in theNovember elections, because the government has put a solid security apparatus in place to forestall and combat any form of violence. In addition to the preparedness of the police and paramilitary personnel, the government is incorporating one thousand five hundred military personnel under the Military Aid to Civil Power.  While the Police will be handling the direct activities of securing the ballot boxes and other electoral materials coupled with other areas having to do with the elections, the soldiers will be on stand-by in case of any emergency. So, we are going to have very peaceful elections.”

Earlier, Pastor in charge, Reverend Gibrilla S. Bangura, preached on theme ‘peace and destiny’.  Citing several scriptures in the Holy Bible, the man of God abhorred evil and covetousness and prayed for the country.

He said people should stop blaming God for their weaknesses and incompetence but praise him for his grace, love and passion for us, his children.

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