The European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) in Sierra Leone said the country’s National Election Commission delivered credible and well-organised electoral process in spite of numerous challenges.
The chief observer of the mission, Jean Lambert, made the observation while presenting the group’s preliminary report on Wednesday’s Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Councils elections to the media in Freetown.
Ms. Lambert said that Sierra Leonean voters demonstrated willingness to consolidate democracy in their country through peaceful conduct.
“These elections, the fourth since the end of the civil war, marked another milestone in the consolidation of democracy in Sierra Leone.
“They were conducted transparently and impartially by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
“Voters were able to exercise their democratic rights peacefully. However, intimidation and instances of violence marred the elections.
“At the time of issuing this preliminary statement, the electoral process continues at Regional Tally Centres,’’ she stated.
She said that the EUEOM observed the conduct of the elections in more than 400 polling stations across the 16 districts in the country, adding that voters’ turn-out was impressive.
Lambert, however, said that procedural shortcomings were detected, “although they did not have a significant impact on the integrity of the process”.
“Observers assessed the voting as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in 95 per cent of the polling stations, while the closing and counting were assessed as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in 85 per cent of cases.
“Party agents representing the main parties and domestic observers followed the conduct of the elections in the vast majority of polling stations visited.
“The legal framework governing the 2018 elections provides a sufficient basis for the conduct of a sound electoral process in line with international and regional commitments.
“Nevertheless, shortcomings identified in the 2012 elections by the EUEOM remain with a number of constitutional requirements, not in line with international standards,’’ she added.
These, according to her, include the candidature for presidential and parliamentary office that was limited to citizens by birth.
Lambert said such excluded naturalised citizens and had been interpreted by political parties as excluding holders of dual citizenship as well.