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UN appeals to parties in Sierra Leone to avoid incitement to violence ahead of polls

UN appeals to parties in Sierra Leone to avoid incitement to violence ahead of polls

The United Nations today appealed to all political parties in Sierra Leone to avoid inflammatory or provocative remarks that could lead to disturbances ahead of next month’s presidential and parliamentary elections, the second since the small West African country emerged from a disastrous decade-long civil war in 2002.

“You must all be aware of recent incidents of political violence,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Executive Representative, Victor Angelo, told the opening session of the National Youth Dialogue Conference.

“Continued occurrences of this nature are without doubt most unhelpful for the elections and I would like to use this forum to request political parties to dissociate themselves from all forms of political violence. The political leaders have a special responsibility and should guide their supporters,” he added.

Mr. Angelo pledged that the UN and its international partners “will support all efforts to ensure that the elections are transparent, credible and free of any forms of violence.

“The support of the political parties, civil society, the media and all segments of the Sierra Leone society, particularly its youths, in achieving this goal is necessary,” he added, noting that 55 per cent of the 2.6 million registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 32.

“Young people, who, as is often said, are the future, will have an enormous influence on the outcome of the elections,” he declared, calling on the country’s young people to contribute to the electoral process by ensuring that they vote and by “not allowing themselves to be manipulated by anybody.”

“I urge all youths to avoid all forms of conduct that could result in a breach of the peace or a breakdown of law and order.”

Sierra Leone is one of the first beneficiaries of the UN’s new Peacebuilding Fund, launched last October to ensure that countries emerging from war and conflict do not relapse back into strife. Earlier this month the Fund approved four new projects to support the ongoing electoral process and improve the judiciary, water, sanitation and health facilities.