Regional divide still a trend in Sierra Leone’s elections
The just-concluded 2012 elections manifested clearly the regional divide that tends to undermine national unity. The North Western Region voted overwhelmingly for the ruling APC while the south-eastern Region voted massively for the opposition SLPP. Such voting pattern is a vivid manifestation of the hard political fact that Sierra Leoneans have taken to the unpleasant habit of casting their votes on regional and party considerations.
While the ruling APC won all the parliamentary seats in the North and Western Regions, the opposition SLPP won almost all the seats in the South and Eastern Regions.
I consider such method of voting as very unpalatable for our hard-won peace and democracy. Although His Excellency the President spread development right across the nation, the 2012 voting style did not reflect his nation-wide development strides.
By so voting, we are trying to widen the regional gap and sharpen regional consciousness, a situation that bears the potential to taint our democracy. In the 2007 elections, a similar regional voting pattern was grossly exhibited even though the erstwhile president, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah took development to all the four cardinal points of this nation.
I suggest we should try to close the regional gap by voting for candidates according to their service to the nation and not in accordance with their regions or their parties. It should not be a hard and fast rule that when you are in the South-eastern Region you should vote SLPP and vote APC when you are in the North-Western region.
In the 2017 elections, I hope to see a reversal of the voting trend with both the APC and SLPP polling large number of votes in all the regions so that we can start getting rid of the stronghold syndrome.
By Joseph Milton Lebbie
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