In this interview, Konneh explains the work of the NDI in expanding democracy in Sierra Leone. NDI’s work centers on elections and ranges from civic education and the strengthening of civil society to political party work to international election observation. Konneh explains trends that have been particularly problematic to expanding democracy in Sierra Leone, such as the regionalism that divides political parties, campaign culture, voter apathy and lack of civic education. He then details the ways in which NDI has confronted these issues, giving suggestions to other countries facing similar obstacles to democracy. Konneh also speaks to election-related violence endemic to Sierra Leone and the extent to which NDI has tried to prevent or predict such violence through collaboration with security forces, but also points out the organization’s limitations. He concludes by addressing the importance of adequate funding for countries to be able to ensure election success.
At the time of this interview, Mohamed Konneh was a program officer with the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) office in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Previously, he worked as a trainer at Management Systems International. In this capacity, he worked on a project called Youth Reintegration and Education for Peace in Sierra Leone, which helped war-affected youth and ex-combatants in rehabilitation. He also was involved with P.A.L.S. (Pause, Assess, Listen, Solve) through NDI—a program to prevent election-related violence in 2007. He earned his bachelor’s degree in development and economics at the Institute of Advanced Management and Technology, an affiliate to Najala University.