Despite the isolated cases of violence and irregularities, the ECOWAS Observation Mission has declared that the Sierra Leone’s general elections held on Wednesday have so far been fair and credible.The head of the mission and former interim President of Liberia Amos Sawyer, made the declaration on Thursday at a special press briefing in Freetown where he also listed a number of recommendations for the electoral commission and the incoming government to consider in order to prevent future occurrences of some of the issues.
“The preparation of the 2018 elections, the conduct of the electioneering campaign, as well as the processes on election day, up until the release of the results of the four elections by the responsible officials at the polling stations, were free, fair, and credible,” he said.
He added: “The vast majority of the Sierra Leonean population, who wished to do so, was provided the required freedom and space to exercise their constitutional rights to vote or to be voted for.”
Mr. Sawyer said the March 7 elections represented another milestone in Sierra Leone’s democratization journey since the end of its civil war in 2002.
He praised the role of the government for shouldering the larger responsibility in the conduct of these elections.
The ECOWAS Commission deployed 65-man observer team, including 15 long term observers deployed as early as February 15. Mr. Sawyer catalogued a series of activities they embarked on both prior to voting and on voting day as part of their monitoring exercise.
He cited the high political intolerance that preceded election day, the polarization of the media on partisan basis, as well as the controversial vehicular restriction among issues identified.
Mr. Sawyer noted that while the restriction on vehicle might have improved on security, it also prevented some voters from exercising their franchise because they could not access their voting centres.