Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – President Julius Maada Bio, on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, launched the Independent Cross-Party Committee on Electoral Systems and Management Bodies Review at State House. The committee aims to assess and enhance the functional capacity and operational support role of electoral systems in Sierra Leone for future credible elections.
The launch, attended by prominent stakeholders, including members of the diplomatic community, government officials, and representatives from the main opposition, All Peoples Congress (APC), marks a significant step toward fostering an inclusive approach to electoral system review.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh outlined the purpose of the engagement, emphasizing that the review would evaluate Sierra Leone’s electoral architecture. The goal is to improve institutional capacities through legal and institutional reforms, with collaboration between the government and the APC.
APC Leader Samura Kamara, highlighted the committee’s role in addressing the contested outcome of the June 24, 2023, multi-tier elections. Describing the resulting inter-party dialogue as a peaceful and multi-stakeholder out-of-court settlement, Kamara stressed the need to build a stronger, efficient, and credible electoral system.
He noted “not all fights require guns, violence, knives, broken bottles, mammy curse, plenty spin and political masking and hypocrisy. Good fights require only wisdom, tolerance, mutual respect and patriotism,”
Kamara urged the committee to review the entire electoral process, encompassing pre-election preparations, voter registration, polling procedures, vote counting, and results announcement. He emphasized the identification of systemic weaknesses or vulnerabilities within the electoral system that may have contributed to alleged electoral rigging.
In his remarks, President Bio underscored the importance of political dialogue as a commitment to peace and national cohesion. He referred to the previous national peace and reconciliation dialogue initiated after the 2018 general elections, which led to the establishment of the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion.
He maintained that “Political dialogue is never a sign of weakness as some may want to perceive it; rather, it is a symbol of our commitment to peace and national cohesion.”
President Bio acknowledged the pivotal role of the Independent Commission in fostering political dialogue after the June 2023 elections. The result is the creation of the Independent Cross-Party Committee on Electoral Systems and Management Bodies Review, aiming to advance and strengthen Sierra Leone’s democratic commitments.
Representing development partners, outgoing UN Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi welcomed the Committee’s inauguration. He expressed anticipation for the full implementation of the ‘Agreement for National Unity’ and commended President Bio’s commitment to decrease political tension and promote national cohesion.
Chief Minister David M. Sengeh announced the co-Chairs of the Committee: UN Resident Coordinator, Emmanuel A. R. Gaima for the Government and Kaifala Marah, representing the APC. The Committee includes members from the APC, the Government, and representatives from civil society and media.
Moral guarantors accepted by both the government and the opposition include ECOWAS, the African Union, and the Commonwealth, signalling a collective effort to ensure a fair and transparent electoral process in Sierra Leone. MJB/22/11/2023