The European Union election observation mission (EU EOM) in Sierra Leone today issued its preliminary statement on the 31 March presidential run-off election.
Jean Lambert, the Chief Observer of the EU EOM, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) said: “Sierra Leoneans again turned out in large numbers to cast their votes, asserting their desire to strengthen democracy during an election which was conducted in an orderly and transparently manner. The peaceful participation of citizens contrasted, however, with a campaign period marked by fears of tribalism. Pressure on the National Electoral Commission (NEC) resulted in a delayed run-off election and a period of political uncertainty. Despite political attacks, the NEC managed to maintain its independence and performed its duties in a professional manner.”
The Chief Observer underlined: “In some areas campaigners faced threats of violence and elements within the two main political parties mobilised harsh rhetoric and groups of young supporters which had an intimidating effect on some voters. In this context, the EU Election Observation Mission applauds the constructive role of civil society in reminding the political parties of their responsibilities in a liberal democracy.”
“In the last stage of the electoral process, it is crucial that political parties and their supporters commit themselves to ensuring a peaceful outcome of the election and respecting the voters’ commitment and will. The rule of law should not be politicised and the verdict of the polls must be respected” concluded Lambert.
On election day, the Mission observed 390 polling stations. The voting and the counting were positively assessed as transparent and credible. Polling agents from both parties and domestic observers were present in practically all the polling stations visited. The EU Election Observation Mission remains in country to observe post-election developments and will publish a Final Report, containing detailed recommendations, within two months of the conclusion of the electoral process.