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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Sierra Leone elections “offered voters a genuine choice but the campaign was affected by intimidation”, says Jean Lambert MEP

9 March 2018

This week, voters in Sierra Leone went to the polls to elect its President, Parliament and local council representatives. It’s the country’s third election since the end of the country’s civil war in 2002.

Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP, held the role of Chief Observer of the European Union election observation mission (EOM) to the country.

Jean said:

“Despite numerous challenges, the National Election Commission delivered what is assessed so far a a transparent, credible and well-organised electoral process. Sierra Leonean voters demonstrated their will to consolidate democracy in their country. They contributed to ensuring the orderly conduct of the election and the presence of party agents and many domestic observers strengthened the overall confidence in the electoral process.”

“Voters had a genuine choice of political parties, in a widened political spectrum. However an increasing number of acts of intimidation and violence against candidates and activists affected the electoral process. While the police played a constructive role managing crowds at polling centres, their intervention at the main opposition party’s situation room and presidential candidate’s home on late Wednesday afternoon was disproportionate and could have been interpreted as a provocation. We call upon the police to exercise their duties in an impartial, proportionate manner and duly investigate all acts of violence.”

“Equally, political parties and candidates should urge supporters to refrain from using intimidation and violence and publicly commit to accepting credible election results, as determined by the competent national institution, the NEC, as a part of their responsibility to support the democratic process in Sierra Leone.”

Neena Gill, CBE, MEP, Head of the European Parliament delegation, endorsed the Preliminary Statement of the EU EOM and stated:

“The European Parliament greatly values the EU’s partnership with Sierra Leone. As the tallying continues, I call on all the parties to work together to enhance confidence and trust. In particular, it is vital that we continue to improve the participation and representation of women at all levels in the country.”

On Election Day, over 100 EU election observers reported from over 400 polling stations in all the districts. The EU EOM observers assessed the voting as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in 95% of the polling stations, and rated the closing and counting ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in 85% of cases.