By Alfred Koroma
West Africa’s regional bloc, ECOWAS has approved $500,000 financial support to Sierra Leone for its general elections on Saturday June 24 and deployed 95 observers.
The support is in line with provisions of Articles 12 to 14 of the 2001 regional Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance on assistance to Member States holding elections.
Former ECOWAS Commission President and ex-Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas with Amb. Ansumana Ceesay, former ECOWAS Representative in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau will lead the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission in Sierra Leone. They will be assisted by a Technical Team led by Amb. Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security.
The deployment of the Election Observation Mission is a follow-up to the joint ECOWAS and African Union pre-election fact-finding Mission to Sierra Leone from 12th to 14th April 2023, ECOWAS said in a statement released on Thursday.
According to the statement, a team of fifteen Long-Term ECOWAS Observers, comprising experts in election administration, gender, conflict management, security, legal and constitutional issues, and the media have already been deployed in the country from 15th June, 2023. They will be joined by 80 Short Term Observers before the election.
Sierra Leoneans head to the pool on Saturday coming to elect leaders that will lead the country for the next five years. President Bio, the incumbent is seeking a second term after serving a first five-year term. His main challenger is Samura Kamara, the main opposition Party candidate he narrowly defeated in the 2018 pool.
Voting will take place in 11,832 polling stations within 3,630 polling Centers across the 16 electoral districts nationwide from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
In total, thirteen candidates out of 17 registered political parties are vying for the presidency. The Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) registered 3,374,258 voters for the 2023 elections out of an estimated population of 8.7 million.