ADDRESS BY NCD CHAIRMAN TO THE NEW EXECUTIVE OF SLPP

 Chairman and Leader of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party

Deputy Chairman and Leader of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party
National Secretary General and Assistant

Regional Chairmen

Women's Leader

All Protocols observed

Please permit me on behalf of the National Commission for Democracy to first of all
congratulate you all for your election as national officers of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party. This
exercise even in terms of your election is crucial for promoting democratic good governance and
will ensure the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the party. It is welcome by the
National Commission for Democracy since it will contribute immensely to the democratic
environment.

 

The Commission is very delighted to host the newly elected national officers of the SLPP, a

party that has made history even before the independence of this country. The Commission takes
cognisance of the newly elected national officials of the SLPP and pray that they will work very
hard to strengthen the structures of the party so as to consolidate national unity and cohesion.
Without any gainsaying political parties have a very crucial role to play in the body politic of
Sierra Leone and this role will determine the positive development of the country even in a
globalised world in which the country is still characterised by underdevelopment and
dependency.

Basically, political parties are indispensable in promoting democratic good governance so as to
ensure service delivery to citizens of a country .It is argued that political parties are crucial for
long-term political development in Sierra Leone. Yet for many years they have been neglected
even in terms of developing their capacities. Political parties have not had a good press. In both
mature and emerging democracies they are often held in low esteem, while the people who run
them are viewed as pursuing their own interests rather than those of the people they seek to
represent. But it would be a mistake to write parties off just because they do not always work
well. Political parties form a pivotal institution in a healthy democracy. Without well-functioning
parties, governments and legislatures have little chance of representing the wider society in a
meaningful way. Parties are the bridge between government and society, both in the ways they
translate society's demands into political ideas and programmes, and in the way they hold
government to account on society's behalf.

  • Political parties are central to representative democracy and to the process of
    democratisation. They connect society and the state.

  • They aggregate and represent interests.

  • They recruit political leaders.

  • They disseminate political information.

  • They socialise citizens into democratic politics.

  • They manage conflicts of interest and, very importantly in societies that have recently
    experienced violent conflict such as ours, they can offer a forum for social and political
    integration, a tool for nation-building.

One cannot therefore overemphasize the task ahead of the newly elected national officers of the
SLPP. It is the national officers that will ensure that the political party function as an institution
characterised by among others organized set of rules/principles accepted by its members; it is an
instrument of collective action or shared interests for political goals and the party's strategy and
operations undertaken by a group or people elected /chosen to do so from among its members

CHALLENGES FOR MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY IN SIERRA LEONE

Despite their importance, political parties usually face several challenges especially that which
borders around building a cohesive society and managing change as well as diversity in the
country. It is a democratic principle that a government in power should seek the interest of all
and at the same time the opposition is not only there to oppose but to proffer alternatives.
Ensuring internal democracy is also a challenge .Parties in Sierra Leone should promote
democracy that will give to their supporters voice in the decision making process this will
mitigate fragmentation which does not augur well for any party be it a governing part or the
opposition. Allowing internal democracy to work will also mitigate conflicts within the party so
that there are limited outbursts into physical violence
(all political parties have differences in
outlook, in approach, in methodology etc which must be handled peacefully within democratic
confines)

  • To get to the issues and avoid personality attacks.

  • To set policy making agenda especially now that the Constitutional Review Process
    (CRP) has been put in motion. The challenge here is to set national agenda by means of aggregating popular interest on issues like efficient service delivery, transparency and
    accountability in governance.

  • Integrate disparate groups- an organized opposition can bring together groups of
    opposing interests under a common umbrella within the democratic process.

  • Build, develop and strengthen institutional structures within these parties.

In fulfilling the above, the SLPP can perform an important role in our democratic process that is
serving as a primary channel for building accountable and responsive government. .

The SLPP has been trying to play these roles effectively. To do so they need to manage social
and political differences within the institution, otherwise they will not speak with a united voice
or articulate on issues with a national perspective.

Beyond these functional activities, parties also provide a number of deeper, systemic supports
that help make democracy work effectively.

For instance:

  • They mediate between the demands of the citizenry on the one hand and the actions of
    the government on the other, aggregating the diverse demands of the electorate into
    coherent public policy.

  • They make effective collective action possible within legislatures. Without the
    predictable voting coalitions that parties produce

PROMOTING THE DEMOCRATIC IMPERATIVE

Ten months after the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections Sierra Leone
continues to promote democracy and good governance. Without doubt this constitutes the only
viable option to ensure progressive socio-economic and political development in the country.
Sierra Leoneans are therefore urged to stand firm in their resolve to defend democracy and good governance at all cost. Democracy and good governance as a concept cannot afford to defend itself, but it is the collective will of the people that can become an effective means in doing so. It
is the people's will that forms the basis for democratic good governance and this is usually
demonstrated through the ballot box during elections. Any other means therefore is not only
illegitimate, but must be resisted, since it will be against the will of the people, the sovereign.
Such an undemocratic scenario will surely lead to chaos and anarchy and a recipe for socio-
economic and political decadence.

The 21stcentury characterized by globalization and the technological imperative is moving very
fast. Undemocratic forces have been challenged by the power of the masses such as the Arab
Spring. Progressive states are identified and cooperated with on the part of the International
Community in this era, through their unwavering respect for the principles of democracy' and
good governance. As a country seeking prosperity, Sierra Leone must at all cost join these
progressive forces since its objective is to ensure a better life for all the people of Sierra Leone;

As we crave to create a better and open society, Sierra Leoneans must embrace democratic
principles and cast away partisan and primordial considerations which at least will polarize the
people. Sierra Leone must foster unity among its peoples. It must also imbibe a national psyche
that will create the enabling environment for unity, peace, socio-economic and political
development, which is the end state for all Sierra Leoneans. Citizens should prescribe
democracy as the oxygen that will promote real and face to face democracy. Democracy is the
only catalyst that will sustain the body politic of Sierra Leone. But we cannot have democracy
without democrats, homegrown, reared and trained as good citizens.

It is in this regard that Sierra Leoneans must not encourage anti-democratic thinking and actions
to influence them. We must encourage face to face democracy to strengthen representative
democracy in Sierra Leone.

There is no other viable option but to vigorously promote talking face to face with each other
despite the political divide. Potential inter party conflict can be mediated and reconciled through
dialogue in the interest of national unity and cohesion. This is an act of democracy that will
promote democratic education aimed at enhancing deliberative and human decision making
process in the body politic of Sierra Leone.

Today Sierra Leoneans are in need of a very smart, holistic and most importantly courageous,
reassessment of the options that are available in terms of ensuring democracy and good
governance. This must be anchored on upholding civilian rule through democratic elections.

Once again we appreciate your coming and appeal for the strengthening of our relationship in a
bid to further enhance democratic good governance in Sierra Leone.

Thank you for your attention.



 

Chairman's photo
The Chairman
Dr. Abubakar Kargbo

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