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Key findings
  • As of mid-2018, a large majority (80%) of Sierra Leoneans said party politics “often” or” always” lead to violence, a 28-percentage-point increase compared to 2015.
  • A majority also said they fear becoming victims of political intimidation or violence “a lot” (41%) or “somewhat” (14%) during electoral campaigns – more than double the proportion recorded in 2015.
  • More than half (53%) of citizens said they feared violence at political events during the previous two years, and a third (33%) reported having feared violence during public protests
  • One in 20 citizens (5%) said they participated in a demonstration or protest march during the previous year – something that most Sierra Leoneans (69%) said they “would never” do.
  • As of mid-2018, a majority of Sierra Leoneans said the government was doing “fairly well” or “very well” in preventing or resolving violent community conflict (63%), reducing crime (61%), and preventing election-related violence (54%).

Sierra Leone dropped by 18 places on the Global Peace Index between 2018 and 2019, ranking now at No. 52 out of 163 countries, and is listed among the five sub-Saharan countries recording the worst deterioration due to political and economic instability (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019; Sesay, 2020).

Political tensions have been fueled by recurrent conflicts between the two leading political parties before and after the March 2018 general elections, continuing with a violent clash of their youth supporters in January; the controversial annulment of the election of 10 opposition members of Parliament; and allegations that President Maada Bio manipulates the judicial system (Abdul, 2020; Mansaray, 2020; Niba, 2019). Unemployment is widely seen as contributing to the prevalence of crime in the country (Garda World, 2019).

The Afrobarometer survey conducted in July 2018 shows high levels of fear of political violence and intimidation and a dramatic increase in the perception that party politics lead to violence. But a majority of Sierra Leoneans are satisfied with the government’s efforts to prevent violence.

Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye Sanny

Josephine is Afrobarometer's acting director of communications.