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Sierra Leone electoral body praised over professional conduct of polls

Sierra Leone electoral body praised over professional conduct of polls

Sierra Leone

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone has roundly been praised for the conduct of the country’s March 2018 elections.

Election observer missions, journalists covering the polls, most Sierra Leoneans and members of the diplomatic corps have all lauded NEC for delivering a clean and credible process.

Jean Lambert, head of the European Union Election Observer Mission to Sierra Leone in presenting her team’s interim report said, “Sierra Leoneans asserted their desire to strengthen democracy … @NECsalone maintained its independence despite the pressure it faced.”

For his part, the British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, Guy Warrington also hailed NEC for doing a sterling job under difficult circumstances. Mary Hunt of the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) had similar words for NEC.

Head of the Commonwealth Observer Mission, former Ghana president John Dramani Mahama commended the NEC for its professionalism, diligence and consistency in delivering another well-managed and credible process on the day of voting.

He further lauded the electoral body for implementing new guidelines and procedures despite logistical and administrative challenges.

“Sierra Leone has committed itself to certain democratic values and principles contained in the national, regional, Commonwealth and international obligations it has chosen to subscribe to,” Mr Mahama said.

The electoral process which kicked off on March 7, involved elections for the presidency, the legislature and councillors.

Except for the presidency, majority of the other elective slots were successfully sorted out by March 13. NEC chairman Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteh declared the presidential polls was inconclusive, hence the need for a runoff.

The March 27 polls was to be contested by the two top candidates from the first round. The then-opposition chief Julius Maada Bio and the ruling party’s Samura Kamara.

As the day drew close, a court injuction was obtained to stay the process. The injuction was lifted two days later but NEC secured another order postponing the process from the scheduled 27th date to 31st.

So on the last day of March, Sierra Leoneans queued to choose between the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) who won the first round and the All People’s Congress. SLPP’s Maado Bio was on the evening of April 4 declared winner and duly sworn in as by law required.

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