Rev Fr. Peter Konteh Executive Director Caritas Freetown and team talked to key actors, including in the National Government Administration, and took the lead in conven-ing what is known as an open-air dialogue. This gave peo-ple representing all sides the chance to air grievances and start finding solutions. The young people got to speak out about some of the things that were being done in the coun-try that they felt were really fueling the conflict between police and young people.
He added that, “We already know the problem which make us to organize a Dialogue Session between the two parties as election is here”. He further noted that the dia-logue is indeed timely as it comes during an important pe-riod, when the country is preparing for General Elections in 2023. He continued by saying bringing the two sides to-gether is geared towards promoting dialogue and greater understanding among the Police, the Electoral Commission and Youth on their roles and responsibilities to prevent and manage violent election related conflicts in order to ensure an enabling peaceful environment is achieved be-fore, during and after the elections.
He maintained that during electoral processes and elec-tions, the security forces, especially the Police have a cen-tral role in providing security and ensuring safety during voter’s registration exercises, political rallies and events, transportation of election-sensitive materials and keeping peace on Polling Day. The Youth also have an indispensa-ble role to play in determining Sierra Leone’s progress to-wards a more peaceful, democratic and prosperous coun-try”
Aminata Finda Massaquoi station manager Culture Radio who also serves as the Chairperson for the Dialogue ses-sion stated that, the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, they need to refrain from violence and look for what they can do to bring change in their communities. She added that social media is one of the causes of violence, saying most of the violence that has happened in the country is due to wrong information young people get from social media which is not true.
Lansana Fofanah, Head of Operations of the Special Division (OSD) of the Waterloo Police Station said, they police have listened to all the concerns and recommendations generated at the open-air dialogue, emphasizing that Police are not their enemies, and should not be seen as targets. He stated that they are carrying weapons as a protection for themselves and not to harm anybody but to serve the people stressing at the end of the day, they are all civilians and the Youths must work together with them to push the country forward.