Draft Statement by Mr. Jean-Pierre Reymondet-Commoy, Head of the EU Delegation in Sierra Leone at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between EU and the NEC for the deployment of EU Election Observers for the 2012 elections (29/08/2012)

Freetown, 29 August 2012

Mrs Chairperson and Chief Electoral Commissioner Dr. Christiana Thorpe
Commissioners, Staff of the Electoral Commission
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for your kind words to the EU. The EU Election Observation Mission will be the third of its kind having done so previously in 2002 and 2007. This underlines the close partnership between the EU and Sierra Leone as well as the EU's continued commitment to the democratic process in your country.

The EU has gained a wealth of experience in election observation around the world. I am confident that the presence of EU election observers will contribute to further improve the quality, credibility and security of the electoral process. As said by Mrs Thorpe we think that it will boost the confidence of all stakeholders in the elections.

It is important to note that the EU Election Observation Mission is an independent mission, its main purpose is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the electoral process in accordance with international principles for genuine democratic elections.

The exact numbers of persons deployed under this mission are still under review but we estimate the following deployment:

  1. a Chief Observer which will be a member of the European Parliament
  2. a Core Team of 7 experts in Freetown in early October.
  3. to be followed in mid October by 14 teams of Long-Term Observers (28 LTOs) in each district
  4. complemented by 25 teams of Short-Term Observers (50 STOs) around election day (a week before election day) and
  5. a maximum of 8 locally recruited short-term observers from the EU Member States present in Sierra Leone and
  6. around 7 MEPs will be fully embedded in the mission as STOs around E-Day.
    All in all, the number of accredited EU observers by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) could reach a hundred.

The Memorandum of Understanding sets out the rights and obligations by both sides. We usually sign these texts with the Government and with the Electoral Commission before the deployment of any mission.

The EU observers will be strictly neutral and will abide by the Code of Conduct for European Observers.  They also subscribe to the Declaration of principles of for international Election Observers and the Code of Conduct for international election observers which was commemorated at the UN in New York in October 2005.