IGR Launches Critical Perspectives of Governance Volume 17

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By Millicent Senava Mannah

The Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) launched Volume 17 of its quarterly publication, ‘Critical Perspectives of Governance’, titled “Front Group for Political Parties: Understanding the Capture of Civic Space in Sierra Leone,” on May 20, 2024 during an event that took place in the IGR Conference Room on Spur Road, Freetown.

The ‘Critical Perspectives of Governance’ series aims to generate debate among researchers and practitioners on pressing governance issues, often challenging conventional theories and practices.

In his address, IGR’s Executive Director, Andrew Lavalie, emphasized the publication’s recommendations for expanding and safeguarding the democratic space in Sierra Leone.

One key recommendation, he pointed out, is for Sierra Leone’s civil society organizations (CSOs) to develop a civic space project geared towards promoting mutual accountability and improve governance quality. He noted how the project could build on the existing Government-Civil Society dialogue platform in the Office of the Vice President, ensuring CSOs lead the agenda at national and district levels.

Andrew Lavalie also suggested that the Government should continue depoliticizing civil society, extending the progress made in minimizing political involvement in Student Union politics to other formal and informal groups.

The publication stresses the importance of the quality of elections in assessing the value of civic space in Sierra Leone. It recommends that local and international election observers maintain high standards and that civil society and development partners ensure inclusivity in the election observation process to represent diverse opinions.

Further recommendations include the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) promoting political party reforms to encourage policy-based engagement, which could shift the focus from personality-driven politics to substantive issues. Development partners are urged to be aware of political actors’ manipulative agendas and to promote inclusivity in their information-gathering and engagement efforts.

The publication highlights the danger of path dependency breeding a cycle of impunity, warning that without support for political parties and democratic institutions to unlearn current institutional cultures, Sierra Leone may face ongoing cycles of vengeance, impunity and violence.

It also notes that the current administration’s policies are influenced by past grievances under the APC Government, contributing to a retaliatory political climate. The report points to appointments in the security and justice sectors, suggesting that individuals with past grievances may shape these sectors’ current policies.

Volume 17 of Critical Perspectives of Governance provides a comprehensive analysis of the capture of civic space in Sierra Leone, offering actionable recommendations to broaden and protect democratic practices in the country.



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