Ms. Laura who works with vulnerable women and girls said that it is this group that suffers the most during violence, and underlined the need for peaceful elections in the country next year.
“The lawlessness we encountered on August 10 is a potential recipe for chaos and violence in elections,” the WAVES Project Officers told ACI Africa, highlighting the violence in which six police officers were killed when youths went on rampage. Additionally, 21 civilians were killed in the fight that ensued.
“There was an agonizing curfew as youths took over the streets. Many lives were lost,” Ms. Laura said, and added, “Women and girls are among groups that suffer the most in situations of violence that's related to elections. They are raped and those who attempt to vie for political positions are intimidated during campaigns and forced to drop out of the race.”
In an interview with ACI Africa, Maximilian Vogt, AGIAMONDO’S CPS Coordinator in Sierra Leone also warned that the country’s security has always been fragile, underscoring the need for people to be constantly reminded to keep peace.
“Peace in Sierra Leone has been fragile since the end of the civil war. This is a peaceful country with a history of violence and the people are struggling with the effects of poor governance, social and economic challenges,” Maximilian said.
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He added, “With each approaching electioneering period comes fears for violence since there are always political powers that seek to destabilize the nation at such times. The period is also characterized with an increase in hate speech and all manner of provocation.”
The Official of AGIAMONDO told ACI Africa that the organization supports peace initiatives across different countries through its peacebuilding project.
“We support activities that promote positive and sustainable peace. For us, peace isn't just the absence of violence; it is about access to justice, the access to dignified lives for everyone, democracy and giving spaces for everyone to be heard," Maximillian said.
The approach of the project, he said, is to support local CSOs by placement of CPS workers, “the ones we recruit and empower ourselves to work within the various organizations.”
“All people we recruit are international experts on their fields of work, be it advocacy, issues of the youths, and so on. Our role is limited to the long-term placement of peace workers within existing organizations in our target countries. We then work in the organizations for a period of six years,” the official said.
AGIAMONDO’s peacebuilding initiative has taken root in Sierra Leone since 2003, immediately after the civil war ended, Maximilian said, adding, “We have worked with so many organizations on six-year projects since then. But our approach has remained the same.”
“Since we don't have any clear picture of the peace initiatives, our activities come from organizations we partner with in our staff placement approach. Our CPSs support peace initiatives of the organizations. In meetings such as these, we discuss how better to support those initiatives through capacity building,” he explained.
He said that in the workshop that started on Wednesday, November 2, participants were expected to share their peace initiatives, learn from each other and plan more for the period before, during and after Sierra Leone’s 2023 elections.
“We have also invited our development partners including the country’s Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, the European Union delegation, Catholic Relief Services and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. They will all have a conversation on the role of CSOs in the upcoming elections in Sierra Leone,” the AGIAMONDO official told ACI Africa.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.