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Commonwealth observer group says election ‘peaceful and inclusive’

April 3, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma 

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The Commonwealth Observer Group to Sierra Leone has said in a press statement that the March 31 presidential run-off election was generally ‘peaceful and inclusive.’

The group said in a preliminary statement issued on Monday, April 2, that the run-off election witnessed the participation of the elderly and disabled voters, who were encouraged by the presence of women and youth both as voters and officials.

“We would like to commend the Electoral Commission for its professionalism, diligence and consistency in delivering another well managed and credible process,” said John Dramani Mahama, chair of the group in Sierra Leone.

Mahama said despite logistical and administrative challenges, the commission was able to implement some new procedures and guidelines, adding that on elections day Commonwealth observers reported positively on the voting and counting processes in many stations visited.

“Once again, we note the presence of the police and heavily armed military personnel at the various polling centres and their active participation in the polling process including queue control at some centres,” he added, stating that the voter register appeared to be accurate and robust, as fears expressed by some people regarding inaccuracies of the register seemed to be allayed, based on the low incidence of election day complaints.

However, the observer group recommended consideration of special arrangements for persons performing election-related duties on polling day, such as polling officials and security officials in order for them to be able to exercise their right to vote.

“The count at polling stations was conducted in a smooth and transparent manner, with polling officials working diligently and methodically in the presence of party agents, national and international observers,” the observer group noted.

The group further said they remained hopeful that the full results will be available within a reasonable period and continue to urge all Sierra Leoneans to be patient and act with a sense of responsibility to maintain public order and demonstrate their commitment to democratic process and institutions.

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