Preserve Dignity of Sierra Leone through June Polls: Catholic Archbishop to Electorate

Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Sierra Leone's Freetown Archdiocese. Credit:

Sierra Leoneans have the opportunity to make their country a better place by electing good leaders on June 24, the Archbishop of Freetown has said.

In his homily during the Sunday, March 26 Annual Lenten Pilgrimage celebration of the Archdiocese of Freetown, Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles urged the electorate in the West African nation to vote wisely in the country’s general elections.

“We are barely three months to elections in June when we shall have the opportunity to elect those who will manage the affairs of our country for five years. It is not for me as a Bishop or for the Church to tell you which party or individuals to vote for. You are better qualified in that than we are,” Archbishop Tamba Charles said.

He added, “All we appeal to you to do is that you vote wisely and not be led by sentiments, and therefore to choose or vote for those you think would lead Sierra Leone and its people to experience the dignified life that God intended for us when He created this beautiful country and put us here.”

The Archbishop who serves as the President of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) also appealed to the people to guard against violence before, during, and after the elections, and to allow each other to freely exercise their democratic rights in the polls.


“As we exercise our democratic rights to vote for candidates of our choice, I appeal that we do so in a manner that will guarantee others their freedom to enjoy their democratic rights. There should be the exclusion of all forms of violence that only creates more problems for a country and its people. There is no room for violence in a democratic dispensation,” he said.

Archbishop Tamba Charles’ sentiments have been echoed by Fr. Peter Konteh, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, who has urged Sierra Leoneans to be patriotic and show love for their beloved country especially during the country’s electioneering period.

“Sierra Leone is a land of great beauty, diversity, and rich cultural heritage. It is up to us, as citizens of this great nation, to promote a positive image of our country and showcase its beauty to the rest of the world,” Fr. Konteh said in a message he shared with ACI Africa on March 25.

He added, “As we approach the upcoming elections in June, it is important that we put aside our differences and work towards a united Sierra Leone. Let us focus on the things that unite us as a people and celebrate our diversity. Together, we can create a peaceful and prosperous future for our nation.”

The member of the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Freetown urged the Sierra Leoneans to work to stop any tensions that he said may arise before, during, and after the country’s general elections.

More in Africa

He appealed to the people to demonstrate, through their actions, that Sierra Leone is a land of opportunity, progress, and hope.

“I urge all of you to be proud of your country and work towards its success. Let us all come together and make Sierra Leone a shining example of what a united people can achieve,” Fr. Konteh said.

He added, “May we all continue to pray for a united and prosperous Sierra Leone. As we navigate through the ups and downs of life, it is important to remember that peace, love, and unity are essential for our wellbeing and the prosperity of our nation.”

“It is time for us to rise above politics, region, and tribal affiliations and focus on the common goals that unite us as a people,” the Priest who has been consistently vocal about the June 24 elections said.

Compared to many African countries that have witnessed civil strife, Sierra Leone has been acclaimed for quickly emerging through devastation and embracing peace after its 11-year civil war that ended in 2003.


The country has, however, recently witnessed acts of politically instigated violence, mostly pitting civilians against the police, and sometimes resulting in deaths and massive destruction of property.

In a past interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Tamba Charles said that violence had also been witnessed between opposing parties in parliament. This, he warned, was setting a bad precedent for the people ahead of elections.

“As much as I can remember, Sierra Leone has had the rowdiest parliament in the last four years. We have seen MPs fighting and throwing things and insults at each other. There was another one this past Wednesday. The fight was over the Proportional Representation System of voting, which the Electoral Commission wants to use this time because the August 10 riots disrupted the constituency boundary delimitation process,” the Sierra Leonean Archbishop told ACI Africa during the 25 November 2022 interview. 

He added, “If the ‘Honorable’ Members of Parliament can fight each other in Parliament, what will stop them from organizing violent attacks at election time?”

In an earlier interview with ACI Africa, Archbishop Tamba Charles observed that many Sierra Leoneans never received psychosocial support even as the country journeyed through a healing process in the years that followed the war.

(Story continues below)

“The one area that was overlooked was the psychosocial support and now, we have young people, middle-aged men who appear to have moved on, are working in offices yet they remain wounded,” the 66-year-old Catholic Archbishop told ACI Africa during the 7 November 2022 interview. 

He added, “We have people who are aggravated by the slightest thing. You ask someone to give you space to pass on the road and they go lashing out profanities at you. It is like they are always waiting for an opportunity to burst out.”

“No one paid attention to the trauma healing, which our people so desperately needed,” Archbishop Tamba Charles told ACI Africa.

The Sierra Leonean Archbishop has also expressed concern that a majority of parties registered for the country’s forthcoming elections have chosen to remain noncommittal to peaceful polls, and that many had refused to sign a document that would otherwise cement their commitment to a peaceful election next year.

And now, what the IRCSL fears the most is that the June 2023 election may be marred by violence, with politicians being the biggest orchestrators of the violence.  

“Our fears are many: that the electioneering campaigns might be marred by violence; that the credibility of the elections might be undermined by the violence that might be orchestrated by some politicians; that the country might be further divided along tribal and ethnic bases, as some politicians are already doing,” Archbishop Tamba Charles said during the 25 November 2022 interview.

In the interview, Archbishop Tamba Charles appealed to the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone, the body that is in charge of overseeing the electoral process in the West African country, to do all that is “humanly possible” to ensure that the electoral process is free of corruption.

“Let the electoral process be credible so that the results may be accepted by all,” the IRCSL President said.

He went on to urge the Sierra Leoneans to only vote for leaders who have the development of the country at heart and to resist the temptation to plunge the country into violence.

“Let us vote for the candidates we believe will work in the interest of our country for its people; that is, for the development of our country and the advancement of its people. Let us also allow others to choose their candidates and to vote for them without fear of being victimized,” Archbishop Tamba Charles said. 

He further said, “Let us also avoid the use of violence and hate speeches before, during, and after the elections. May we accept the results of the elections and allow the candidates that win to govern the country with our fullest cooperation.

“Sierra Leone is the only country that we can call our home. Therefore, after the elections, the winners and the losers embrace each other and work together for the development of Sierra Leone and its people,” the Catholic Church leader said during the 25 November 2022 interview with 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.