Alas the flashpoint failed to flash. The politically volatile district of Kono did not spark during the recent political rally there by the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party. This is a place where political skirmishes have been commonplace especially in the last nearly four years dating back to the local council elections in 2008 with the opposition mostly at the receiving end.
We are pleased at the peaceful nature in which it all started and ended a couple of weeks ago. It was a great display of political tolerance when the District Council Chairman, Miss Diana Konomanyi of the ruling All People’s Congress party reportedly turned out to welcome the opposition leader Julius Maada Bio to her district.
We want to see a lot more of this by her, members of her council and other public office holders in the district. We also urge other political officials to be symbolically present when other parties go to hold their rallies. When such happens, the politicians should not embarrass their guests even if they can challenge policies of each other. They must not be dishonest. They are either serving in public trust or are aspiring to. So honesty must be their watchword.
A post-conflict country needs at least ten years to graduate to a peaceful country. We are at that threshold since the end of our war in 2002. We have it all to prove as a nation especially so when that landmark falls in an election year. Elections, which seem to be tearing us apart as a nation with politicians falling over each other desperate to either retain power or to get (back) to power. Inciting ordinary people who are the ones with everything to lose, to tear each other foolishly. If this is in the interest of us the masses, please give us a break by giving us peace by preaching peace and not hating each other so passionately.
Kono is one of at least three potential trouble spots ahead of November’s elections. The others are Freetown and Bo. We hope Kono, having pulled it off this time, will remain to pull it off throughout the electoral cycle including on voting day, counting and after.
We also hope that Freetown, Bo and even other places will also pull it through so we can once again positively surprise the world by holding our elections peacefully and honestly and respecting the outcome.
Once again we salute the peaceful atmosphere that characterised the opposition rally there and we look forward to more of this civilised behaviour by people in an area where they have better things to agitate for and not being violent at the say-so of politicians.
(C): Politico Newspaper