September 15, 2015
- International Day of Democracy and not a whimper from
the burrows of the rat as his jackboots continue to
trample upon the rights of the people using Parliament
and the Judiciary as willing co-conspirators.
Today Tuesday September 15 is being
observed as the International Day for Democracy and this
year's theme could not be more appropriate for a country
like Sierra Leone where the soul of democracy has been
sold to the devil of manipulation, repression and
This year's theme - Space for Civil
Society should be a wake-up call to the rat and his
cabal that civil society groups form one of the key
pillars of governance and that these groups should be
allowed to carry out their duties - one of which is to
hold the government to account.
US Secretary of State
John Kerry reminds us of
the need for us to respect the tenets of democracy -
"We pause today to reflect on and
celebrate democracy and the free and open debate it
entails. We celebrate democracy not because it is easy
or perfect, for it is obviously neither of those things.
We celebrate democracy because it is
rooted in the will of the people, and, as such, does a
better job than any other form of government in
respecting the rights of individuals, solving problems
peacefully, and building enduring prosperity.
Only democracy allows a country to
benefit from the full energy and talent of its citizens,
and from the progress and innovation that the
unconstrained flow of ideas can create...the United
States will continue to stand up and speak out when
authoritarian governments crack down on civil society,
imprison peaceful reformers, silence legitimate dissent,
or enact legislation that violates the freedoms of
worship, speech, and press.
The UN’s theme this year - Space for
Civil Society – is a powerful reminder that a strong and
independent civil society is an essential starting point
for a strong and independent country."
Sierra Leone being a member of the
Commonwealth of nations should pay heed to the words of
Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.
He has noted among other things that -
"Democracy is certainly about holding
elections that meet the expectations of the people. It
is also about practicing the culture of inclusion,
empowerment and participation, respecting human rights
and the rule of law, and promoting transparent and
This ‘culture of democracy’ in the
Commonwealth has been greatly advanced by the role civil
society has played at elections and also in the years
between, especially through promoting dialogue, and
respecting pluralism and diversity.
We pay tribute to the leaders of
democracy who ensure that the voices of all are heard
and are taken into account, and also to all those who in
their daily work contribute to advancing the culture of
Responsible and professional
reporting, and free and independent media, give meaning
to freedom of expression, and are a prerequisite for a
robust and responsive democracy. Tragically, many
journalists and reporters around the world must still
put their lives at risk to express this independence.
We pay tribute to their courage and
integrity and remember with profound respect and honour
those who have paid the ultimate price in defence of
this democratic right.
Through their activities, civil
society organisations have helped strengthen some of the
most fundamental rights and freedoms necessary to build
stronger and better democratic societies. Undertaking
these activities has not been without cost. In some
instances, members of civil society have been harassed,
persecuted, imprisoned and lost their lives because of
their commitment to democracy and its principles of
inclusion, equality and justice.
The Commonwealth applauds their work
and achievements, and pays tribute to civil society
organisations in protecting and promoting democracy.
We will continue to celebrate and
encourage the voice of civil society and freedom of
expression at the heart of healthy and flourishing
democracies serving their people.
The Commonwealth continues to be a
champion of the values of democratic values and of a
stronger democratic culture as societies grow."
the erosion of democracy” – UN rights
experts urge Governments across the world - that's the
headline of an article by rights experts into the value
of democracy in a country like Sierra Leone where the
concept has been thrown into the all-consuming fire of
greed, nepotism and the same ills that unleashed our
very own awful horror - the bloody conflict that left
hundreds of thousands dead, millions traumatised and a
still to be determined number displaced from their usual
areas of abode.
Alfred de Zayas and Maina Kiai have
"democracy today has become an
over-used word, invoked even by tyrants. A country does
not become democratic simply by holding elections. What
matters most is what happens between those elections:
Can people speak out, engage and
influence the leaders they have elected?
Is there a correlation between the
needs and will of the people and the policies that
Can people peacefully assemble when
other ways of expressing their grievances fail?
Is peaceful dissent tolerated and
encouraged to flourish, so that the marketplace of ideas
is not monopolized by one group?
On International Day of Democracy
2015, we call on States to recognize that civil society
space is the vehicle that allows this to happen. Indeed,
it is essential for a true democracy.
Unfortunately, space for civil society is shrinking
rapidly today, both in countries with no democratic
tradition and in ostensibly democratic countries. There
is a growing disconnect between elected officials and
We see this disconnect manifested in
the recent surge of large protest movements throughout
People perceive a failure of
governance and democracy, and protest is often their
last resort in making themselves heard. Increasingly,
governments are responding to this type of dissent with
more repression, distorting the concept of democracy
Meanwhile, we are also witnessing a
worrisome erosion of democracy as a result of the
increasing influence being exercised by powerful actors
that have no democratic legitimacy, including the
military-industrial complex, transnational corporations,
financial institutions, investors, big pharma and the
oil-and mining lobbies.
Democratic governance is being
corrupted by players that are not subject to democratic
controls and who use their largesse to ensure that their
interests are prioritized over those of the general
Civil society must reclaim its
rightful place by demanding genuine participation in
governance, including decisions on peace initiatives,
environmental protection and trade and investment
“Fast-tracking” legislation or
treaties, enacted without consulting stakeholders and
without responsible debate is unacceptable in a
democracy. Democracy is much more than a label.
‘Representative democracy’ can only be
called democratic when and if ‘representatives’ actually
represent their constituencies by pro-actively
consulting with them and facilitating their
participation in decision-making, thus making the goal
of greater space for civil society meaningful.
Democracy should not be reduced to an
empty word; it is self-determination in action, and a
necessary instrument for securing a more peaceful, just
and stable world. Civil society is a key partner to
achieve this noble goal."
The Head of UN Development Programmes
Helen Clark has
also contributed to this year's them of the need for the
creation of space for civil society groups to operate -
"At the heart of the idea of democracy
is the notion that people’s engagement in public life is
fundamentally a force for good which leads to the
betterment of society.
This engagement takes place through
electoral processes, political party membership, and
representation in political offices, as well as in
independent spaces outside formal institutions.
The theme of this year’s International
Day of Democracy, ‘Space for Civil Society’, reminds us
of the importance of civic space in achieving
accountable governance and social justice, and of the
need to protect this space and increase opportunities
for dialogue between governments and citizens so that
the diverse interests of populations, including the most
vulnerable members, can be heard.
Vibrant, autonomous, and safe civic
spaces enhance democracy.
As we look ahead to the launch of the
Sustainable Development Goals, it is important to
acknowledge that the role of civil society will be
critical to their success.
On this International Day of
Democracy, I reaffirm UNDP’s commitment to supporting
free and vibrant civic spaces which enable civil society
actors, including always women and youth to contribute
effectively to the building of more peaceful, just, and
Here's something that should attract
serious consideration by the anti-people cabal headed by
the smoke and mirrors rat squeaking all day long at
State House in Freetown as he bribes his way using the
peoples' resources to get things his way.
When the opposition holds a meeting
members are rounded up, brutalised and hauled over the
coals by a compliant and submissive judiciary but when
crowds from the ruling party embark on praise-singing
campaigns a la the rat, no one gets arrested as the
repressive police become a part of the charade.
This reminder should have the
anti-democratic forces fuelled and encouraged by the rat
thinking - assuming they do think about what they do to
"Elections constitute the basic
democratic method for selecting those who make decisions
on our behalf, and holding them accountable for their
decisions. For elections to genuinely reflect the
people's will, votes have to count equally, candidates
for office have to be able to campaign freely, and there
has to be a "level playing field" for governing and
opposition parties and candidates in the electoral
Most infringements of these principles
occur when governing parties or leaders refuse to accept
the possibility that they might lose office, and try to
prevent that from happening."
And there's something from the
compliant and equally corrupt prone Parliament that
would want people to believe that it does not rubber
stamp the whims and caprices of the Executive as
represented by the rat.
"However, holding elections does not
make a democracy.
People have to be able to influence
their representatives on a continuous basis, and to
communicate and organize with others on matters of
common interest, independently of government.
This requires an underpinning of
guaranteed individual rights and freedoms, particularly
of expression, association and assembly. These, in turn,
require an independent judiciary to uphold them.
Also crucial is the existence of free
media of communication (press, broadcasting, the
Internet) to ensure that there is independent
information about the actions of public officials, and
to facilitate communication and organization among
citizens in defence and promotion of their interests.
And for the kitchen cabinet of the rat
that would not bat an eyelid to use the Ebola Virus
Disease outbreak as a political tool to suppress
dissenting views this is something for members of the
"Basic economic and social rights – a
minimum livelihood, health care and education – are also
essential to democracy, since without these the right to
participate in public affairs cannot be exercised
effectively. It is for this reason that democracy and
human rights can be seen as closely connected. Both have
as their basic premise the equal worth of each
individual, regardless of race, gender, personal belief
or style of life."
And talking about the Ebola Virus
Disease as a political tool - kindly ask the rat and his
officials why, when declaring that woman, a little while
ago, as the last person to recover from Ebola they
waited until August 24 to make a big media event of it
all. August 24 as all true Sierra Leone watchers would
know - is/was the official birthday of one Siaka Probyn
Stevens. You work out the maths, as they say on some car