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Following an invitation from the the Government of Sierra Leone and the National Electoral Commission, the European Union established a Mission to observe the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections scheduled for 17 November 2012. The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) was led by Chief Observer Richard Howitt, a British Member of the European Parliament.
The Mission comprised 28 Long-Term Observers (LTOs), 50 Short-Term Observers (STOs) and seven Election Analysts from different EU Member States. Observers were deployed throughout the country to assess the electoral process and to meet government and electoral officials, candidates and political parties, civil society representatives and the media.
The EU EOM's assessment of the electoral process was independent of any EU institution or Member State. Its purpose was to offer an impartial assessment of the elections and their compliance with Sierra Leone’s international and regional commitments with regard to elections, as well as with Sierra Leonean law.
The EU EOM operated in accordance with the ‘Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation’ adopted at the United Nations in 2005. All EU Observers adhered to the Code of Conduct that requires they maintain strict impartiality and neutrality, and abide by Sierra Leonean law.
The EOM to Sierra Leone assessed all aspects of the electoral process: the registration of candidates, training of election staff, voter education, campaign activities of the candidates and political parties, media coverage, preparations for pollin, as well as tg e complaints and appeals process. It also assessed the electoral framework. On Election Day, observers visited polling stations in order to observe the opening of the stations, voting and counting.
The EOM did not interfere in the electoral process and had no authority to change, improve or correct any shortcomings or to request changes. The EOM’s mandate was only to observe, collect and analyse information and to publish its findings.
A few days after Election Day, the Chief Observer Richard Howitt issued a public Preliminary Statement. Approximately two months after the final results, a comprehensive report was issued, including a series of recommendations. The assessment of the elections was based on criteria that have been adopted by the European Union for assessing the quality of elections.
The mission also carried out a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process based on long-term observation. This analysis included the legal framework, the work of the election administration, the role of state institutions, campaign activities, the conduct of the media, the role of civil society, voting and counting, the complaints and appeals process and the announcement of the results.
Media monitoring by the EU Election Observation Mission to Sierra Leone was conducted in accordance with international methodological standards of quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Media monitoring covered a representative sample of Sierra Leonean broadcast and print media. The audio-visual media was monitored daily during peak viewing and listening hours throughout the period of the election. The print and electronic media were also monitored on a daily basis.
As well as noting the time and space allocated, the media unit also evaluated the tone of media coverage, positive, negative or neutral, towards the different political players, candidates and parties.
The EU EOM employed a team of local media monitors trained in quantitative analysis, who monitored a representative sample of Sierra Leonean media. The monitoring informed the EU EOM on the performance of the media through regular media reports and it also formed part of the overall evaluation of the election process.
This list of documents is provided for the reader's better understanding on International Election Assistance and Observation.