Sierra Leone: US Government Provides US$ 4.4m for 2018 Elections

By Stephen V. Lansana

United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, John Hoover said that the U.S. Government is providing US$ 4.4 million as indirect support for free, fair and peaceful 2018 elections.

Ambassador Hoover said, during a roundtable with journalists in Freetown, that the fund will be used in the areas of civic education, public order management, and conflict early warning and prevention mechanism in the country.

He explained that the U.S. is indirectly supporting the elections by working with Non-Governmental Organizations and also with the United Kingdom (UK) to train Sierra Leone Police (SLP) so that they will be able to manage election conflicts.

He said, “United States has no ulterior motives or agenda in Sierra Leone. Everything we do here is done transparently and in close collaboration with the government and other Sierra Leonean partners in order to support their work and their priorities.”

“We want for Sierra Leone what Sierra Leone herself strives for: a healthy and prosperous democracy,” he emphasized.

He explained that the United States partnership with Sierra Leone extends to strengthening the rule of law and the protection of human rights and democratic freedoms. He added that the United States has provided funding for and partnered with the judiciary and the corrections system to undertake reforms to reduce prison overcrowding and make the justice system more transparent, accountable, and fair.

In stating how the US$ 4.4 million will be utilized, he explained that US$ 1.5 million will be used for general elections public policy dialogue series. He said that the project consists of a public dialogue series on key social and economic issues facing the country, with the aim of informing the citizenry about key national issues. He said the programme will strengthen professional and related capacity of journalists, to engage constructively in civic political dialogue in preparation for the 2018 elections, adding that the programme will also engage women, primarily in rural communities, to build greater female political participation at the local levels.

Ambassador Hoover added that US$ 1 million will be for ‘empowering women in politics’, a project that will be implemented by World Vision.

He said that U.S. Mission Sierra Leone Public Affairs Office is implementing a US$ 52,000 programme, ‘Tok Salone’- Educating First Time Voters for Elections in 2018 from May 2016- September 2017. “This program will educate first time voters, especially low-income and unemployed youths about their civic rights and responsibilities.”

He further stated that Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF) Alumni will implement US$ 20,000 on the programme, Street Women Lead for Voter Education.

Ambassador Hoover said the UK College of Policing and ISAT is implementing US$ 941,678 to train the SLP in professional public order management in other to reduce use of physical force and generate public trust in the police, with the view to ensuring that police crowd management practices conform to international human rights standards.

He said that Center for Civ-Mil Relations will implement $ 120,000 in June 2017 on integrated elections security training programme, adding that West Africa Network for Peacebuilding and Creative Associates will also implement $ 1 million on “Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data in West Africa”.