Ex-combatant in every post-conflict country has the potentials to perpetrate violence. Sierra Leone as one of the post-conflict countries in West Africa has all the potentials of having conflict in the November 17th Presidential and Parliamentary election. I am definite to say this based on the past electoral violence and allegations going around some political figures that they are training former fighters to disrupt the above election to achieve their political aims.
This is ten years now since the eleven years civil war ended, yet still the issue of political violence, intimidation of peaceful citizens has been going on unstoppable based on the fact that the politicians are using ex-combatants as their personal bodyguards. Recently, there was an extreme political violence that took place in the capital city, Freetown during a bye-election to replace a late Councilor from the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC) party where one politician Lansana Fadika former Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Western Area Chairman who has crossed to APC was stabbed on his thigh. Prior to that, Bo Town, the second city has had serious political violence where they burnt down three (3) houses, one person was killed and many others were fired by live bullets and others stabbed. In Kono also, one of the diamond rich towns in Sierra Leone, there was a political battle between the vice President and the Minister of Internal Affairs Musa Talawally, where many people were injured, some lost their properties worth millions of Leone. It has happened in Togo Field, Pujehun Town, Yedema to name but few. In all of the above violence, ex-combatants were mentioned as the main tool that was used by the politicians to cause the violence.
As the election is getting closer every day, Mind to Change (MTC), an International organization working to promote peace in Sierra Leone is presently working in collaboration with a group called Action Group for Peace and Development (AGPAD) to campaign for violence free election. The main aim of this campaign is to have peaceful elections without any form of violence before, during and after the election. Presently, we are embarking on radio sensitizations, to educate and appeal to other ex-combatants to reframe from violence. We have drafted a petition, asking all the politicians, peace loving Sierra Leonean to sign that they are all denouncing violence as stated above.
ALL EX-COMBATANTS IN SIERRA LEONE SAY NO TO VIOLENCE
Based on the allegations that ex-combatants in Sierra Leone are involved in committing violence and crime against humanity, we are here by saying no to violence in all shapes and forms. All ex-combatants have unanimousely agreed to campaign against violence before, during, and after the general election. We have therefore decided to come out with a PETITION so that every peace loving Sierra Leonean can contribute and sign for sustainable peace and development in our beloved country, Sierra Leone.