Religious Leaders in Sierra Leone Urged to Step up Efforts to Ensure Peaceful Elections

The Executive Director of Caritas Freetown in Sierra Leone, Fr. Peter Konteh. Credit: Freetown Daily/Facebook

The Executive Director of Caritas Freetown in Sierra Leone has called on religious leaders in the West African nation to intensify their efforts to ensure that the country holds free, fair, and peaceful elections that are scheduled for June 24.

In the fourth part of his reflection on the preparation for polls in Sierra Leone, Fr. Peter Konteh, addresses the obligation of religious leaders in the electoral process in the country, urging them to use everything at their disposal to ensure that the people are ready for elections.

He acknowledges the role played by religious leaders in ending conflicts in Sierra Leone, especially the country's 11-year civil war that ended in 2003, noting that the leaders had continued to play a key role in the country’s healing process.

“Sierra Leone is a very religious country in the sense that a majority of our people are either Muslims or Christians. And since this is a religious country, religious leaders have a fundamental obligation to ensure that we have a peaceful and just society,” Fr. Konteh says in a message he shared with ACI Africa on Monday, February 13. 

He says that religious leaders have, in the past, been actively involved in promoting justice and peace, and human rights across Sierra Leone, and adds, “Overall, religious leaders in Sierra Leone have a strong voice for justice and peace and communities. However, we call upon us to step up the gains that we have achieved.”


Religious leaders, the member of the Clergy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown says, need to be neutral despite their political affiliations and ethnicity.

Their objective, he says, is to be neutral, and to advocate for peaceful elections, transparent elections owing to their moral authority.

“Proverbs Chapter 31:8-9 urges us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of those who are destitute. We are called to speak up and judge fearlessly, defending the rights of the poor and needy. Isaiah 1: 17 also says that we learn to do right, to seek justice, and to defend the oppressed,” he says.

The Sierra Leonean Catholic Priest adds, “We have an obligation as Religious brothers and Sisters to ensure that we continue to have a peaceful Sierra Leone.”

According to the Caritas Freetown official, religious leaders in Sierra Leone have, in the past, been actively involved in promoting justice and peace, and human rights in the country. 

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The leaders, he says, have spoken out against corruption, violence, and discrimination, as well as other social injustices. 

The religious leaders have called on the government and other authorities to take up action against social injustices, and have also been engaged in promoting peace and reconciliation in the aftermath of the country’s civil war. 

It is religious leaders who have played the biggest role in ending the conflict, and mending bridges between different communities, the award-winning Priest says, adding that different religious-based institutions are, today, providing support to those in need. 

In his reflection, he highlights support such as education, healthcare, and humanitarian assistance that the Catholic Church, in particular, provides to vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone.

And now as the country edges close to the elections, the religious leaders once again have a big role in promoting voter education, encouraging peaceful dialogue, and advocating for the respect of human rights and the rule of law, Fr. Konteh says.


He urges leaders of various religious groups in the country to work towards mitigating tensions and preventing the spread of fake news and hate speech, which he says can create political division and fuel violence.

“Religious leaders can use their moral authority to hold political leaders accountable, and encourage them to prioritize the common good over personal and partisan interests,” he says, and urges religious leaders in the country to continue providing spiritual support and guidance to their congregations ahead of the elections.

In a series of past reflections addressing Sierra Leone’s preparations for the June 24 poll, Fr. Konteh has also addressed the topic, “Substance Abuse, a Major Factor in the Electoral Violence”, as well as the need to curb hate speech during the country’s electioneering period.

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.