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Sierra Leone observer group prepares for election day

5 March 2018

With just a few days to go before Sierra Leone holds general elections, Commonwealth observers have visited cities and towns across the West Africa country.

The 14 observers representing Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, and the Pacific arrived in the country on 28 February and are led by the former President of Ghana, John Mahama.

He said: “Sierra Leone has made significant strides on its journey towards consolidating its democracy, and if the country is to make these gains and move forward, it is important that Sierra Leoneans are able to cast their vote in a credible election, where all parties are given access to a level playing field.

“Our duty as Commonwealth observers is to pay close attention to how these elections are being conducted, to see if they meet up to the standards for democratic elections to which Sierra Leone has committed itself, and to determine whether the credibility of the electoral process as a whole is intact.”

Commonwealth observers have been holding briefings with representatives of political parties, civil society, security forces and the media to assess the electoral environment.

Sixteen parties have put forward candidates in the country’s presidential race. The winning candidate is required to secure 55 per cent of the votes.  In addition to voting for presidential candidates on March 7, Sierra Leoneans will also elect parliamentary, and local government leaders.

“As a member of the Commonwealth family, we hope that as Sierra Leone takes another step forward in strengthening its democracy, and that our presence here conveys a message of support to the Sierra Leonean people,” said Mahama.

Polling stations open on Wednesday (March 7). 

Read Mr Mahama’s complete arrival statement.