The pre-election delegation to Sierra Leone, organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), has assessed preparations for the coming elections looking at the political environment, institutions, legal frame work and security.
At a press conference yesterday at Bintumani Hotel, NDI delegation visited the country from July9 to July16 and was the second of two delegations to assess the pre-election environment.
NDI will deploy 40 international observers to monitor the August 11 elections, and during their assessment they met with diverse group and conducted their activities in accordance with the laws of Sierra Leone.
Politically, they assessed that political parties seemed eager to participate in the elections and to accept voting results. Also after many years of armed strife, the country appeared relatively stable and secure and provisions had been made to maintain peace and security during the elections.
The NDI delegation considers positive agreements signed by political parties, paramount chiefs, election observers and the media of their commitments to refrain from interfering in the electoral process.
The institute also noted that the delegation anticipated some major problems in the electoral process.
The most consistent challenge, they said, was inherited history and constitutional circumstance, the election period coinciding with the rainy season which could play havoc with administrative preparations and poll accessibility in a country already suffering from a devastated infrastructure.
The delegation observed that the organization of the August 2007 elections involved both innovation and reform.
While NEC has responded to concerns of the population such as the distance to polling sites, it is also balancing citizens right to vote with security challenges, whilst PPRC monitors the participation of parties in their electoral process including compliance with the code of conduct.
The pre-election observers recommended in the spirit of international cooperation, encouraged the Government to live up to its responsibility and provide promised funding to NEC by the end of July and to take steps for a level playing field.
The observers urged NEC to continue to be open, transparent and accountable in all its operations and to ensure that political parties and citizens are informed of mechanisms to resolve electoral disputes.
The observers also recommended the political parties to continue to abide by the code of conduct and code of campaign ensuring their members to refrain from violence and intimidation.