By Abubakarr Harding
The training of Peace Mediators across the country by the Independent Commission on Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) in partnership with the Women, Peace and Security Institute (WPSI) of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) on conflict mediation and reconciliation has been completed.
10 mediators per district participated in the training. In all a total of 120 Mediators; 64 males and 56 Females were trained so far.
The training for mediators in the Western Urban and Western Rural district was held in Freetown, while the training sessions for the districts were held in the regional headquarter towns of Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Port Loko.
The two-day training for the Southern Region took place at the Galliness Paradise in Bo City and brought together 40 participants drawn from Bonthe, Moyamba, Pujehun and Bo districts to be trained as peace mediators ahead of the National June 24 General Elections.
Participants comprised Paramount Chiefs, Traditional and Religious leaders, market women, Office of National Security (ONS), Youth Representatives, Civil Society Organization, etc.
According to Madam Agnes Afi Agbevadi, Acting Head of Women Peace and Security Institute at the KAIPTC, the training aims at enhancing the capacity of national and district mediators to effectively prevent and resolve any potential conflict that may arise before, during and after the General Elections in the country.
”It is expected that the mediators will use the skills and knowledge acquired to ensure they effectively mediate any potential conflict that may arise. We do not foresee any threat but we are training the mediators ahead of time so that in the case of any potential conflict they will be able to deal with it in their various regions,” she noted.
Speaking on the partnership with the ICPNC, Madam Agbevadi underscored it has been a great time experience as both organizations have the same mandate to ensure peace and security. Escalating the training in 5 regions in Sierra Leone, she stated has given them the opportunity to discover the country a little bit and has also enhanced their scope of network as they engaged with the various stakeholders within these regions.
“The Women Peace and Security Institute at the KAIPTC urges all national stakeholders to integrate women’s perspectives and full participation in the electoral processes. The Institute also calls for a concerted and collective effort especially at the community levels to ensure that there is violence free election in Sierra Leone,” she said.
“We do not condone any violence that may affect especially women and children before, during and after the elections in Sierra Leone. We wish ‘Mama Salone’ the very best in the forthcoming elections,” she said. She expressed on behalf of the KAIPTC her sincere appreciation to the Government of Sweden for their continued support to ensure sustainable peace and security in the West African Sub Region.
Kojo Mends-Buah, Senior Programs Manager, Conflict Mediation and Resolution at the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) disclosed, the training in Bo is part of their nationwide drive of training mediators across the country especially at a moment the country is heading towards the Multi-tier elections.
“Mediation is more important when there are scuffles or issues of conflict you need to have a mediator, but you can’t just take anyone to meditate. So we deemed it fit to carefully select these participants represented here to capacitate them with the best of knowledge that will secure the peace of the nation.
“We are therefore expecting the mediation team members to go back to their respective communities and contribute towards the furtherance of peace and national cohesion in the country. Again we are calling for dedication and patriotism from our mediators and with concerted effort continue to uphold the peace in our beloved country,” he urged.
Participants from the training described the engagement as timely whilst pledging their unflinching commitment to upholding the peace within their various communities.
“This training is very excellent. I’m grateful to be here as a participant to be taught and trained as a mediator of peace in my community. It’s really apt, going through social media and seeing what some political parties are saying that is not resonating with the peace in our country. I think it’s but fitting to come and have this training so that when we go back to our communities we can help in consolidating our peace”.
“So my message from what I have learnt here is we should have one common interest that is Sierra Leone, and that’s what we’ve been taught and that’s what we should preach to our brothers and sisters,” said Reverend Father Lappia from Mattru Jong, Bonthe District.
Doris Fambulleh a trader from Bo said: “This training is really timely because we know what we’ve experienced from past elections with incidences of violence and hate speeches among party leaders and supporters but with this training we are now ready to reach out to constituents with messages of peace”.
Some of the topics covered in the training include: conflict and conflict analysis, conflict theory, conflict mediation and reconciliation etc. The training also saw role plays, scenarios, group work and a question and answer session.
The Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion is a creation of an Act of Parliament in February 2021 and was officially launched on Thursday 20 April, 2023.
The Commission’s mandate is to promote national cohesion and address the root causes of conflict which are vital for ensuring the country’s continued progress towards sustainable peace and development.