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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Sierra Leone election: ECOWAS observers warned against impartiality

Head of ECOWAS’ 55-member Observation Mission to SierraLeone, Prof. Amos Sawyer, has tasked the regional observers to discharge their duties with the highest sense of responsibility and impartiality given the critical importance of the March 7 polls to peace and democratic consolidation in the country and the region, reports ITRealms.

Prof. Sawyer, who was Liberia’s former Interim President said in Freetown at the briefing of 40 Short-Term observers, who have joined 15 Long-Term Observers already on ground in Sierra Leone.

“I wish to therefore admonish each and every one of us to conduct ourselves in a manner that is beyond reproach and ensure that our feedback is factual and truly reflects an impartial assessment of the 2018 General elections,” he said, noting that all stakeholders, both domestic and international, are looking up to ECOWAS to lead the way, whilst on the field, will add value to the entire process.

The Head of Mission outlined ECOWAS’ engagement with stakeholders and support to Sierra Leone to ensure a successful electoral process, including the Needs Assessment Mission in July 2017 by the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), the first of its kind, followed by a joint ECOWAS-AU-UN High level Mission in November 2017.

This was followed by an ECOWAS Pre-electoral Fact-finding Mission in February 2018, complemented by series of training workshops on election-related mediation and dispute resolution, targeting faith-based organisations and community peace actors in the country.

In his introductory remarks, Prof. Sawyer congratulated the new ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behazin, on his appointment and formally welcomed him to his first observation assignment.

On behalf of the new President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, Commissioner Behazin, who is leading the Commission’s Technical Support Team for the Mission, welcomed the observers and urged them to carry out their assignment witheffectiveness and precision.

He said the general elections would mark a major step toward consolidation of peace and democracy in Sierra Leone, and the largerECOWAS Community, adding that the Commission had provided financial and other forms of support to ensure the success of the electoral process.

The ECOWAS Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Remi Ajibela, and the Head of Electoral Assistance Division Mr Francis Oke, set the tone for the observers’ briefing, by providing them with the historical and political contexts of the Sierra Leone polls, the logistics, security and local contacts.

Members of the Long-Term Observation Core Team also provided the observers with relevant information on the situation report, and also went through the observation Code of Conduct with them.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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