Statement read to the leadership of the two main political parties; the All People’s Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), at the parties headquarters during the Women’s Peace March on 9th November 2012.
The Women of Sierra Leone remain concerned about the increasing electoral violence during campaigns all over the country as the November 17th elections draw closer. We continue to receive reports of provocation including the tearing down of party posters and use of obscene language, threats, and physical harm on members of one party against another. Unfortunately, this is prevalent among the two largest political parties, the APC and SLPP. We condemn such acts in the strongest terms and call on all political parties to respect the Bintumani Declaration for peaceful elections which they signed and the campaign timetable, campaign time of 7am – 7pm and other rules they agreed on with NEC, PPRC, and the Sierra Leone Police in the presence of members of the Women Situation Room.
This has huge implications for voter turnout, particularly for women, who make up 60% of legible voters. Both political parties have failed to implement their gender policies in the award of symbols, which is likely to result in fewer women in elected offices. Further incidents of violence will prevent them from coming out in their numbers to exercise their right to vote. As one of the big political parties who should set the pace, we expect you be role models for the smaller parties by not only keeping to the campaign time table, but avoid interfering during the campaign days of other political parties. We strongly appeal to your party to intensify its call for a peaceful campaign and elections and indeed ensure your members and supporters stop all forms of violence with immediate effect.
We need to always remind ourselves that Sierra Leone belongs to all of us! Therefore, we should tolerate each other, before, during and after the elections. We must conduct ourselves in a peaceful manner during this sensitive elections period so that we can protect Sierra Leone for our children. Therefore we take serious exception to the use of obscene languages including and especially against women. As women and Sierra Leoneans, we do not want to go through our ugly past of war and destruction. This situation can only be avoided by political tolerance, living together in peace, and a level playing field for all. We therefore call on both the APC and SLPP to set the pace and be role models for the other parties in ensuring peaceful elections on November 17, 2012!