A follow up team from the United Nations Security Council headed by the Deputy High Commissioner of the British High Commission in Freetown Lesley Beaton on Thursday 7th February 2013 met with the Chairman of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), Hon Justice M.E. Tolla Thompson.
The team from the United Kingdom (UK leads on Sierra Leone in the Security Council) is in Sierra Leone to get first-hand information on the support received from the UN by the Commission. According to the team, the Security Council will in March discuss the future of UNPSIL in Sierra Leone. The discussion will decide when UNIPSIL should be finally closed in Sierra Leone and how other UN Agencies in the Country will grow and fill the space in the long term.
In his statement, the Chairman of the Commission Hon. Justice M.E. Tholla Thompson expressed the Commissions gratitude to the support received from the United Nations for the 2012 Elections. Through the support from the UN, the Chairman says the Commission was able to organise inter and intra party dialogue forum, a conference that led to the signing of the 2012 Elections Declaration, support to the All Political Parties Youth Association, the All Political Parties Women Association, engagement with Political Parties, among others.
Speaking on further support from the UN, the Chairman says the Commission now needs the support of the UN in the actualization of the Commission’s vision on Political Education. He informed the team that the Commission last week completed a nationwide post elections engagement with the ten Political Parties that contested the 2012 Elections. The Commission he says used the occasion to introduce the concept of Political Education to representatives of the Political Parties. Political Parties he says should be operated as institutions and should not be seen to be around only for elections. He expressed optimism that Political Parties will embrace the idea.
He informed the team that the Commission is monitoring the campaign ahead of the Parliamentary Elections in Constituency 92 on Saturday 9th February 2013. He says the All Political Parties Youth Association will also launch a sensitisation on Political Tolerance and Non Violence.
Speaking on the challenges ahead of the 2016/2017 elections, Hon Justice M.E. Tolla Thompson says the commission has commenced the campaign against violence and intolerance as this will pave the way for peaceful election. Voter Education and Constant engagement with Political Parties will be a priority in the activities of the Commission.
Other priority areas he says will be capacity building of the Commission and the revision of the bill that was sent to parliament in 2012.
Asked on future support received by the Commission, Registrar Abraham John says the Commission received financial, technical and advisory support from the UN.These support he says were received through the Peace Building Fund and the Elections Basket Fund and where restricted to certain activities which included peace consolidation and capacity of PPRC. At the moment he says, the PPRC is not getting any support from international bodies or institutions that deal with Political Parties.
He expressed optimism that staff of the Commission might have the opportunity to observe how Political Parties operate in other countries.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.