Freetown, 9 March 2018
The European Union election observation mission (EU EOM) in Sierra Leone 2018 today issued its preliminary statement on the 7 March Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Councils elections.
“Despite numerous challenges, the National Election Commission delivered what is assessed so far as a transparent, credible and well-organised electoral process. Sierra Leonean voters demonstrated their will to consolidate democracy in their country. They contributed to ensuring the orderly conduct of the election and the presence of party agents and many domestic observers strengthened the overall confidence in the electoral process.” Jean Lambert the Chief Observer of the EU EOM and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) declared.
The Chief Observer stressed: “Voters had a genuine choice of political parties, in a widened political spectrum. However an increasing number of acts of intimidation and violence against candidates and activists affected the electoral process. While the police played a constructive role managing crowds at polling centres, their intervention at the main opposition party’s situation room and presidential candidate’s home on late Wednesday afternoon was disproportionate and could have been interpreted as a provocation. We call upon the police to exercise their duties in an impartial, proportionate manner and duly investigate all acts of violence.”
“Equally, political parties and candidates should urge supporters to refrain from using intimidation and violence and publicly commit to accepting credible election results, as determined by the competent national institution, the NEC, as a part of their responsibility to support the democratic process in Sierra Leone” concluded Lambert.
Neena Gill, CBE, MEP, Head of the European Parliament delegation, endorsed the Preliminary Statement of the EU EOM and stated:" The European Parliament greatly values the EU’s partnership with Sierra Leone. As the tallying continues, I call on all the parties to work together to enhance confidence and trust. In particular, it is vital that we continue to improve the participation and representation of women at all levels in the country." On Election Day, over 100 EU election observers reported from over 400 polling stations in all the districts.
The EU EOM observers assessed the voting as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in 95% of the polling stations, and rated the closing and counting ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in 85% of cases.
The EU EOM is currently observing the tallying of results and this Preliminary Statement does not cover the mission’s assessment of this ongoing phase.