Catholic Entity Appeals for Calm in Sierra Leone as Violence Rocks Days to Polls

Caritas Freetown Executive Director Fr. Peter Konteh presents the Sierra Leone Election Pledge. Credit: Caritas Freetown Media team

The development arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown in Sierra Leone, Caritas Freetown, has appealed for calm amid reported incidents of violence across the West African nation that is preparing for its fifth presidential elections since the end of a brutal 11-year civil war that ended in 2002.

The violence reported in Bo province, as well as “unauthorized assemblies and the dissemination of inciteful messages and speeches” in other parts of the country come just days to the Saturday, June 24 general elections.

Sharing his plea with ACI Africa, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, Fr. Peter Konteh, has cautioned Sierra Leoneans against rioting and other acts of violence, saying that the current tension in the country is disrupting people's lives.

“As we face a high level of tension and political division in our country, we must come together to promote peace and respect for each other's dignity,” Fr. Konteh says in the Wednesday, June 21 message.

He adds, “Violence, rioting and disturbance of the peace disrupts regular life, causing harm to individuals and communities... It is important to remember that every citizen deserves respect and should not be used for selfish political interests.” 


On Wednesday, June 21, Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS) reported the torching of property belonging to the All People's Congress (APC), one of the top parties contesting for presidency, with Samura Kamara as its flagbearer.

In a statement that was shared with ACI Africa, Mr. Abdulai Caulker, Sierra Leone’s National Security Coordinator said that the security office was “concerned over the reported cases of violence in some parts of the country in the last few days.”

“The ONS believes that such incidents of violence have the potential to pose challenges to the peaceful atmosphere that is needed for the conduct of a free, fair and credible elections,” Mr. Caulker said.

He added, “The ONS wants to make specific reference to the burning down of the All People's Congress Party office in Bo as a case in point. Whilst the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) investigation is ongoing, the ONS would like to urge the SLP to speedily investigate the matter and bring perpetrators to book as soon as possible.”

The National Security Coordinator further warned what he described as “ill-motivated persons” against taking the law into their hands. 

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He further admonished the 13 political parties participating in the elections to take full responsibility for the actions of their supporters, including encouraging them to desist from all forms of violence, unauthorized assemblies and the dissemination of inciteful messages and speeches.

The international community has joined the government, the Church and other groups in condemning acts of violence in Sierra Leone ahead of the general elections.

In a Wednesday, June 21 statement obtained by with ACI Africa, the British High Commission in Freetown, the Embassy of Ireland, the German Embassy in Freetown, and the French Embassy in Sierra Leone jointly call upon the citizens of the West African country to refrain from violence.

“We are concerned by reports of election-related violence and aggression across the country, in the run-up to the elections. We urge everyone to refrain from violence, respect the political choices of one another, and to reject the language of division and hate,” the delegates say.

They add, “The peace pledge signed by President Bio, Dr Kamara, and all political parties in May, committed all to peaceful campaigning and fair conduct in these elections and to resolving grievances through the courts. This pledge should set the tone for all supporters in the weeks ahead.”


The delegates express solidarity with the West African country, saying, “As representatives of the international community, we stand together as firm friends of Sierra Leone's people… In a spirit of partnership, we reiterate our support to transparent, inclusive, credible and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the people.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown has expressed gratitude to the international community for committing to support transparent, inclusive, credible and peaceful elections in Sierra Leone.

“We are grateful for the support of our international friends from various international bodies, who have joined in our campaign for peace and have demanded that political parties respect the pledges they made to the nation. We must all work together to promote peace, maintain order and stability in our country,” Fr. Konteh says in the June 21 message shared with ACI Africa.

In March, the member of the Clergy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown lauded the monetary contribution of the European Union (EU) to support Sierra Leone’s general elections.

The award-winning Catholic Priest, who has expressed the desire to see the June 24 general elections bring an end to violence, hatred, and discord has further appealed for tolerance as the people exercise the democratic right in the elections.

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“We must listen to each other, accept that there are different political ideologies, and celebrate our similarities. Hate speech and abusive language should not be tolerated. Instead, we should engage in peaceful dialogue and find common ground,” Fr. Konteh says in his June 21 message.

He echoes the message of Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of the Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown, who has decried the high tension in Sierra Leone ahead of the elections.

In a Tuesday, June 20 message shared with ACI Africa, Archbishop Tamba Charles expressed concern that tension has engulfed the country as the election date edges closer. 

The Catholic Archbishop who serves as President of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) said that for a country that suffered over a decade of civil war, such a situation of tension is not good.

Sierra Leone’s presidential contest is likely to be a tight race between the incumbent president, Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and Kamara. Eleven other people have expressed their interest in the top job. 

President Bio, who was elected for a first term in 2018, has reportedly faced increasing criticism for the country's debilitating economic conditions, with several violent anti-government protests taking place in recent months. 

Approximately 3.37 million registered voters are expected at the June 24 Sierra Leonean polls.

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.