A sixty-member delegation from ECOWAS has arrived in Sierra Leone to monitor the August 11 polls. The observers will be deployed to all the four regions and 12 districts of the country, in addition to the west and rural Freetown.
A press release states that the elections in the country are particularly significant for ECOWAS because they are being organised for the first time by Sierra Leonean people towards the peaceful and credible transfer of power, after the protracted civil war in the country.
It continues that the success of the elections will be critical determinant of the country’s maturity in its embrace to democratic principles and of its sincerity towards national rebirth and reconciliation
Since its arrival, the release states, the mission has met with the National Electoral Commission (NEC), government officials, security agencies, diplomatic missions and civil society organisations to exchange views.
They are being supported by an eight-member coordinating team from the ECOWAS Commission who will remain in the country until after the conclusion of the elections. The officials, who include members of the ECOWAS electoral unit, are led by the organisation’s conflict prevention adviser, Dr Abdel – Fatu Musah.
The observer mission, headed by a member of the ECOWAS’ Council of the Wise, Gen Seth Obeng of Ghana, include representatives of the ECOWAS parliament, the ECOWAS court of justice, ECOWAS member states, civil society electoral experts as well as representatives of the ECOWAS ambassadors accredited to Nigeria, the seat of the institution’s headquarters.
Following the mission, ECOWAS delivered 40 vehicles to NEC to assist in the preparatory work.
Under its supplementary protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, ECOWAS is required to dispatch fact-finding and observer missions to member states conducting presidential elections as part of its determination to ensure democratic convergence across the region. These missions also enable ECOWAS to determine appropriate assistance to be rendered to such states in order to ensure the conduct of free, transparent and credible elections in the region.