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Heads Of International Election Observation Missions Exchange Ideals On Sierra Leone General Elections

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Group picture of International Observation Missions after their meeting in Freetown (Text and photos credit Paul Ejime)

The Heads of International Election Observation Missions met in Freetown on Friday to exchange ideas and strategize in support of the conduct of peaceful and successful general elections in Sierra Leone on Saturday, 24th June 2023.

At the meeting held at the instance of the ECOWAS Observation Mission led by Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, were former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Head of the West African Elders Forum, former Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegne, Head of the African Union Observation Mission, and former Nigerian Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, Head of the Commonwealth Observation Mission.

Heads of international observation meet in Sierra Leone (Text and photos credit Paul Ejime)

Others were Ms. Evin Incir, European Union Chief Observer, Amb. Cameron Hume, of the Carter Center, and representatives of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC).

The Heads of Missions, who took turns to brief the meeting on the deployment of their observers were almost unanimous on their findings from field reports regarding the challenges and high points of the pre-election activities.

Another scene from the meeting (Text and photos credit Paul Ejime)

These included complaints by the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) against the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) and the security forces and the incidents of violence and intimidation reported in some parts of the country.

Dr Chambas urged the international observers to exercise neutrality and professionalism in executing their mandate, with the overarching objective of supporting the entrenchment of democracy in Sierra Leone and the ECOWAS region.

Another scene from the meeting (Text and photos credit Paul Ejime)

Echoing Dr Chambas’ sentiments, former President Jonathan, who was accompanied by the former ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, explained that the West African Elders Forum was focusing on mediation to help resolve identified differences.

Welcoming the Heads of Mission, Amb. Abdul-Fatua Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, said the pre-election consultation was to ensure that the international observers were on the same page in support of Sierra Leone to consolidate its democratic gains after the fifth electoral cycle and two successful transfers of political power between the two dominant political parties.

The Heads of the International Observation Missions are expected to hold a post-election meeting before announcing their preliminary reports on the electoral process.

The ECOWAS and African Union Observation Missions issued a joint statement on Thursday, expressing “concern about the violence and intimidation in some parts of the country, noting that such incidents have the potential to mar the peaceful conduct of the elections.”

The statement, therefore, called on all stakeholders to work together to de-escalate tension for a peaceful electoral process.

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