Sierra Leone’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) said Wednesday it has issued registration forms for 13 movements seeking political party status.Sierra Leonean election laws require political parties to transition from various stages of development starting as a movement, and being issued a registration form is considered a crucial stage in the life of a potential party. There is no timeline for a movement to be cleared to serve as a party as long as it meets the criteria involved.
Wednesday’s announcement comes as the political tension heightens ahead of next year’s presidential and general elections.
It also comes amidst talk of a ‘Grand Coalition’ to challenge the traditional two dominant parties – SLPP and APC. Former UN diplomat Kandeh Yumkella, who withdrew his candidature from the main opposition SLPP on Monday, has expressed his intention to lead this coalition.
The PPRC said as of Tuesday only 12 of the 13 movements have however collected their registration forms.
Meanwhile, a pro-democracy civil society group has mounted a campaign to encourage citizens to vote on the basis of issues rather than ethnic considerations. The Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) intends to beat an age-old system that forces Sierra Leoneans to vote along ethnic lines in elections, a situation that has led to the two traditional political parties – SLPP and APC – dominating the country’s political system since independence in 1965.
IGR on Tuesday launched a song as part of this campaign. The song, ‘My Vote, My Life’, consists of messages the group say amounts to a citizen’s manifesto. The sound track discusses seven issues, including women’s participation in governance; inclusion of persons with disabilities; issues affecting the youths; and declaration of assets by politicians before assuming office.
IGR’s Executive Director, Andrew Lavalie, said the initiative seeks to change the way people vote during elections with the goal of influence positive development for the country. IGR intends to make the song viral with the use of social media.