Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone political parties registration commission with UN assistance striving to enhance culture of political debate for credible and transparent post-conflict elections

14 May 2007 | UNIOSIL/PIO | PR 39

Freetown, Sierra Leone, 14 May 2007 - With the assistance of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international partners, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) has, since its establishment in December 2005, embarked on dynamic initiatives geared towards the fulfillment of their constitutional mandate of monitoring the conduct of political parties as a contribution to ensuring transparent and credible presidential and parliamentary elections in August 2007.

Among the Commission's most prominent achievements was the facilitation of a dialogue among political parties and the subsequent agreement and signing of a Code of Conduct that would determine and shape political activism in the period before, during and after elections. At an impressive ceremony held in the House of Parliament on 23 November 2006, eight registered Political Parties signed the Code of Conduct as insurance to refrain from any form of political misconduct that would jeopardize the credibility of the 2007 and future elections.

To ensure compliance with the terms of the Code, the PPRC established a National Code Monitoring Committee (NCMC) that would serve as forum for discussion of issues of common concern including breaches of the Code. In April 2007, three Commissioners, including the Chairman, Justice Sydney Columbus Eugene Warne, Roland-Ade Caesar and Muctarr B. Williams, accompanied by members of the Code Monitoring Committee, inaugurated the NCMC at the regional hubs of Kenema, Bo and Makeni in the East, South and North of the country.

By way of taking the process further to the grass root level, the PPRC also established District Code Monitoring Committees (DCMC) in all 14 districts, charged with observing and reporting the conduct of political parties. The composition of the DCMC mirrors that of the NCMC, and includes representatives of each of the eight registered political parties, a representative of Sierra Leone Police, two from civil society, one representative from the National Commission for Democracy and one from the Inter-Religious Council.

In order to further sharpen their already vast skills in the area of mediation and conducting constructive political dialogues among political parties, PPRC Chairman Warne as well as Commissioners Caesar and Williams are presently in Sando, Sweden, to attend a five-day course on "Facilitation of Dialogue Processes and Mediation Efforts", funded by the Folke Bernadotte Academy. The course includes conflict dynamics and analysis and options based on third party engagements.

The PPRC demonstrated its maiden test on mediation of intra-party conflict in their recent efforts at bridging the gap in the All Peoples Congress Party (APC) after nearly four years of protracted legal tussle among leading members of that party. This mediation was at the request of APC. Meanwhile, the PPRC has established and maintained a healthy working relationship with not only political parties, but also with their international partners that has helped in the development of the Commission's much-needed operational infrastructure, human resource capacity and logistics such as vehicles and power supply.

UN Radio in Sierra Leone supports the efforts of the PPRC through the weekly discussion platform "Straight Talk" which provides a level playing field to the eight registered political parties that signed the Code of Conduct in spreading their various messages. To improve the culture of public political debate, UN Radio, in collaboration with the independent radio broadcaster "Cotton Tree News - CTN", arranged for a special media workshop for leading representatives of political parties.