A JOINT high-level delegation comprising Halima Ahmed, the commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the Economic Community of West African Countries, ECOWAS; Minata Samate Cessouma, the commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union, AU; and Mohamed Ibn Chambers, the special representative of secretary-general and head of the of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, concluded today, Friday, November 24, a four-day visit to Freetown, as part of regional and international efforts to supporting the preparations of the presidential, parliamentary and local councils elections, scheduled to take place on March 7, 2018.
During the visit, the delegation held consultations with the chief justice, the leadership of Parliament, the minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the minister of Internal Affairs, the attorney general and minister of Justice, the inspector general of Police, the deputy chief of Defence Staff and representatives of the Office of National Security, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and the United Nations Country Team.
In addition, the delegation met with the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration Commission, the National Commission for Democracy, and the Human Rights Commission. The delegation also exchanged views with leaders and representatives of political parties and members of civil society. The delegation was received in audience by President Ernest Bai Koroma, who was briefed on the exchanges held with national stakeholders. The delegation expressed appreciation for his commitment to ensure peaceful and credible elections.
With all interlocutors, the delegation had fruitful consultations on the level of preparedness of the electoral process, and was pleased to note progress achieved so far. In particular, the delegation congratulated the National Electoral Commission for meeting all planned deadlines, and commended the Government for the disbursement of funds to ensure the completion of the process.
In the course of its discussions, the delegation underlined the confidence of ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations in Sierra Leone’s democratic system, and its capacity to organize peaceful and credible elections.
It is significant to note that this election in Sierra Leone comes after a series of successful elections recently held in West Africa. The delegation called upon all political parties and their leaders as well as all other stakeholders to sustain their efforts to ensure that the country maintains this successful trend in the region.
In this regard, the delegation wishes to encourage further outreach and dialogue efforts amongst political actors and other stakeholders. The delegation equally urges civil society, the private sector as well as the media to be aware of their important roles, and calls upon youth and women to engage and participate actively in the entire process.
The delegation also calls upon the security services, especially the police, to fulfill their responsibilities with professionalism and impartiality, and to provide security for the electoral process and in particular to the presidential candidates. Similarly, the delegation encourages the Judiciary to ensure prompt, fair and timely adjudication of electoral grievances and offences. ECOWAS and the African Union will also deploy short and long term observer missions in the coming weeks.
– Nov. 24, 2017 @ 15:47 GMT /