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Polls open in Sierra Leone elections

7 March 2018

Voting is now under way in Sierra Leone as the West African nation elects presidential, parliamentary and local government leaders to serve for the next five years.

The former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, is leading a group of 14 Commonwealth Observers.  He was at Murray Town Municipal Junior Secondary School in the capital Freetown for the opening of the polls this morning. Throughout the day, he will be visiting polling stations in the Western Urban District to observe how the elections are being carried out.

President Mahama said: “These elections are critical as the people of Sierra Leone take another step forward to consolidate their democracy. It’s a time when Sierra Leoneans can show the world that they have the capacity, the will and commitment to hold credible and peaceful elections. The eyes of the world are on Sierra Leone, and the Commonwealth family will be supporting the country every step of the way.”

Commonwealth observers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific have all been deployed in the nine polling districts in the country. This is Sierra Leone’s fourth general elections since its 11-year civil war ended in 2002. More than 3.1 million Sierra Leoneans are registered to vote and 16 political parties are contesting the elections.

In a joint statement from the heads of the six international election observation missions now in Sierra Leone, the leaders said they have ‘noted the efforts of the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration Commission, and the judiciary, civil society, the media and other key institutions towards the conduct of peaceful and transparent elections’.

They called on the political leaders, parties and their supporters to ensure peaceful elections and respect for the rule of law on voting day and through the results tallying process. They have urged the security agencies throughout the country to ‘demonstrate professionalism and to enforce the law in a neutral and proportional manner’. The heads of the international observer groups also called on presidential aspirants to ‘uphold their commitments under the ‘Freetown Declaration’, which was signed by presidential candidates on 28 February 2018.

Full statement from the Heads of International Election Observation Missions.