By Amin Kef (Ranger)
The Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) has on Wednesday 31st August 2022 held a one-day meeting with leaders and representatives of 17 political parties in the country. The meeting was held at the Office of National Security (ONS) Conference Room on Tower Hill in Freetown.
Declaring the purpose of the meeting, the Communications Officer of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, Fatmata J. Kamara stated that it was a familiarization meeting geared towards bringing together leaders of various political parties and officials of the Commission which in other words was introducing the Peace Commission to leaders of all the political parties and security forces in the country.
She dilated on the formation of the Peace Commission, its mandate and activities they have undertaken so far, the August 10 violent protests, and how the Commission intends to join forces with all political leaders on a nationwide peace awareness sensitization drive in the international peace month of September.
In her presentation, the Executive Secretary of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, Hawa Sally Samai, dilated on the antecedents that led to the establishment of made the Commission, its mandate, implementation of its mandate, the successes and challenges they have been facing since inception.
She explained that what they are desirous of achieving is a Sierra Leone that is peaceful and cohesive maintaining how the responsibility lies with them to facilitate peaceful co-existence, inclusiveness and to building a network for peace and national development.
“As representatives of political parties it is good that you work closely with the Commission to preach peace throughout the country as such will create huge impact in enhancing peaceful co-existence,” she appealed.
mentioned major thorny stalemates that they have mediated to ensure peace and stability in communities, adding that notwithstanding gains made it was not all issues they were able to amicably resolve or prevent from escalating citing the August 10 violent protests saying the Commission was not knowledgeable of the group or persons responsible for the violent protests in Freetown and parts of the provinces.
She called for a fair dialogue by all present through presentations of disaffections in order to find possible ways to maintain peace in the nation.
With regards the August 10 violent protests representatives of political parties present made references to various factors and also proffered possible solutions to certain societal ills. One thing that featured prominently was lack of communication on the part of the Government some expressing the view that the President and his Ministers must work effectively to counter false rumors.
Some maintained that the Government showed bias in responding to the people that lost their lives saying it only concentrated in giving the slain security personnel a befitting burial arguing that all those who were killed on August 10 should have been treated equally and because of that the Government must apologize to the nation.
It was ultimately agreed that as political leaders they are ready and willing to work hand in hand with the Commission to preach peace among their supporters and denounce violent activities or words that could lead to violence.
The Director for Conflict Prevention of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, Philip Bona, profoundly thanked all the political parties representatives for attending and admonished them to be aware that we only have one Sierra Leone, whose development and destruction lies in our hands but wished that we will always strive towards having a peaceful nation.