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Sierra Leone’s ruling party warned against ethnic politicking

Sierra Leone’s incumbent All People’s Congress (APC) party has been accused of promoting ethnic politics and ordered to remove all banners carrying messages that promote it.The Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), which regulates the affairs of political parties, also called on the party to advise some of its members to refrain from aligning a particular tribe/ethnic group to their Party.

This follows condemnation of posters which associate certain ethnic groups with the APC. A notable one is a banner that reads: “Krio for APC.” The Krios are the descendant of freed slaves who predominantly resides in Freetown and its surroundings.

“The Commission is hereby asking the APC to ensure that their members put down banners or posters with the inscription “Krio for APC,” the PPRC said in a statement issued on Monday, citing constitutional provisions that prohibit the act.

Ethnic considerations have dominated Sierra Leone’s politics since independence, so that the country is divided along the southeast and northwest. The former is thought to be predominantly Mende and who tend to support the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), while the latter is predominantly Temne and which tend to support the APC. Other smaller ethnic groups have historically aligned themselves to these larger groups.

Civil society and other political analysts and commentators blame ethnic politics for the underdevelopment of the country. They say because of ethnic considerations, the least competent candidates have always been favored over more competent people who often hail from
less politically influential ethnic groups.

“It is clear in the Political Parties Act of 2002 that political parties should not be aligned to any particular tribe in Sierra Leone and such banners and posters are not in the interest of the people of
Sierra Leone,” the PPRC statement says.

The Commission also reminded the leadership of all registered political parties to ensure that they respected the campaign calendar as published by the National Electoral Commission. It said parties
should desist from holding campaign meetings on dates that have been allocated to other parties as that “is a recipe for chaos and/or political disputes.”

The statement signed by PPRC chairman, Justice Patrick O. Hamilton, called the attention of the Sierra Leone Police to the development, urging it to be vigilant and ensure anyone caught violating the campaign calendar be brought to book.

Some critics have however criticized the PPRC statement as coming a little too late. They say the APC has since carved its campaign along a tribal slogan: Tolonbo, which loosely translates as ‘straight
forward.’

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