By Millicent Senava Mannah
The Independent Peace Commission for National Cohesion (ICPNC), in partnership with the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) conducted a two days training for 150 Peace Monitors ahead of the June 24, 2023 General Elections.
The training, which aimed at enabling participants to observe and identify threats before and after the elections was conducted at the institution’s Head Office on Lamina Sankoh Street in Freetown.
Coordinator of the Peace situation Room at ICPNC, Babara Sangare, disclosed that majority of the Peace Monitors are bike riders who are considered to be one of the set of people most times influenced by politicians to create violence.
She mentioned how there has been a systemic change of perceiving themselves as perpetrators of violence to the perspective of peace ambassadors maintaining how they have already started working and are all over the country.
Babara stated that they are conducting training in all districts across the country disclosing that some of the Peace Monitors have already started reporting peace threats.
She noted that they need to support them to build their capacity so that they would work better saying that is why they organized the two days training further revealing how they will be trained by trainers from Ghana during which the Peace Monitors will also share their own experiences.
Mustapha Abdallah, a Senior Researcher at the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Centre stated that their institution is one of the ECOWAS Centres of Excellence located in Accra, Ghana that is committed to training of peace keepers as well as conflict resolution mediators.
He informed that the training is based on the need to ensure the promotion of peace as elections are drawing near furthering how they want to contribute to the peace and stability in the country.
‘’The key aim of the training is to ensure that we enlarge the capacity of peace monitors and conflict resolution mediators in the country for them to be able to maintain peace and national cohesion during and after elections.’’ Mustapha Abdallah stated.
‘’At the end of the training we expect that participants will be able to actually monitor and ensure they can detect potential threats that can undermine the peace and stability of the elections,’’ he said.
He noted that they should be able to report to key state actors and institutions in order to respond effectively so that the elections are free from potential risks and instability.
Mustapha stated that they are looking at three key areas, election monitoring saying if elections are not monitored very well the triggers of threats will not be seen.
Second is conflict analysis, which helps to understand the context, the key actors within the political landscape in Sierra Leone, adding that when it is done it enables actors to know the potential areas where conflicts are likely to occur, and by understanding all the dynamics they would be able to respond to volatile situations.
The third area is mediation stating that if they identify all these areas of conflict and they don’t have mediators in place who are trained to handle such situations it is likely these conflicts will escalate into violence.
Nellie Smith Conteh, National Chairlady of the Bike Riders Association, one of the Peace Monitors, commended the institution for organizing such a timely training.
She maintained that, they will work assiduously to implement what they have learnt to ensure that peace and national cohesion are maintained in the country.
She continued that, because of the training she now knows her limitations, and how she should not be partisan going on to advice riders not engage in violent situations.
Climaxing the training was the question and answer session.