2023 Elections: Int’l observers urge citizens to avoid Sierra Leone relapsing into conflict

Group Picture of International Observers with members of Sierra Leone's Election Peace Pledge Committee

By PAUL EJIME –

Heads of International Election Observation Missions to the just concluded General Elections in Sierra Leone have encouraged political stakeholders to work collectively for national cohesion, peace, and reconciliation to prevent the country from relapsing into conflict.

The Sierra Leonean Presidential and Parliamentary elections were held throughout the West African nation on June 24, 2023 under the watchful eyes many international monitors and observations.

Concluding their post-election consultations in Freetown on Wednesday, the Heads of ECOWAS, African Union and Commonwealth Missions as well as the West Africa Elders’ Forum (WAEF), met separately with re-elected President Julius Maada Bio, of the ruling SLPP, his defeated opponent in the presidential election, Dr Samura Kamara, of the APC, and representatives of the National Election Peace Pledge Committee, reiterating their message to all Sierra Leoneans to work together in the national interest.

International Observers meeting Sierra Leone’s National Peace Pledge Committee

At the meeting with the Committee’s leadership led by Co-Chair Marcella Samba-Sesay, the Heads of the Observation Missions, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas (ECOWAS), H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia (AU), Madam Elizabeth Lwanga (Commonwealth), and former President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria (WAEF), took turns to commend the Committee for its mediation efforts, including the signing of the Peace Pledge by the leaderships of major political parties that took part in the just-ended general elections.

The committee, comprising civil society organizations, including religious, women and youth groups, government representatives, and persons living with disabilities, was urged to continue its peace initiatives beyond the election period. Its members were also enjoined to build consensus to spur national development and progress.

The Heads of AU and ECOWAS Missions noted that the organizations they represented had regional and continental responsibilities to accompany Sierra Leone on the path of good governance and democratic consolidation.

Further to their primary role as election observers, the international Observation Missions undertook quiet diplomacy that contributed to dousing political tensions and steering stakeholders on the same page.

President Bio was sworn in on Tuesday shortly after the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) announced his victory. However, Dr Kamara has rejected the results, saying, “they are not credible.”

The Heads of International Election Observation Missions further urged the Election Peace Pledge Committee to engage with political parties and other stakeholders to resolve any residual issues arising from the general elections, and advocate for clarifications and review of some provisions of the constitution and the electoral laws to enhance the transparency of the electoral process.

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