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“There is no reason 2018 elections should not be free and fair”

 February 15, 2017 

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Sunil Saigal, has noted that the country has a history of conducting free and fair elections, and that there was no reason that the next elections should not be free and fair and be free from fear.

He made the above statement yesterday at the UNDP office in Freetown during a courtesy call on him by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL).

The UN Resident Coordinator further stated that the coming elections would be held without political oversight from UN Peacekeepers. “That places the responsibility on the government, the democratic institutions and the people of Sierra Leone,” he said.

The UN Resident Coordinator said it was up to government to organise and create the enabling environment, provide election security for electorates to vote, and for candidates to campaign freely.

Whilst congratulating the HRCSL on their 10th year of operations, Sunil Saigal assured UNDP’s continued collaboration with democratic institutions and called on the HRCSL to look into the key aspect of right issues during the electioneering process.

He lauded the human rights record of Sierra Leone but stressed the importance of improving on the rule of law and access to justice.

Commissioner Brima A. Sheriff of HRCSL spoke about the UNDP’s support to the Commission since its inception and explained the development of their 2018 elections strategy.

As a result of the increased demand for the services of HRCSL and in the light of ongoing redistricting and de-amalgamation of chiefdoms, Commissioner Sheriff solicited support for the HRCSL to proactively place itself within the anticipated expansion to new headquarter towns of Port Loko (North Western District) and Koinadugu (Kabala).

Meanwhile, opposition parties and civil society groups continue to press for a date for the elections after the failure of the Electoral Commission to announce a date. The latter though had reportedly written two letters to President Koroma, in line with constitutional provisions to hold consultation with him prior to announcing a date, which remains elusive as both the president and chief electoral officer remain tight lips.

 

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