By Alhaji Haruna Sani
The European Union Chief Observer, who doubles as member of the European Parliament, Evin Incir, has informed journalists that the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-OEM) to Sierra Leone will conduct their observation in a strictly impartial manner.
Evin Incir made the statement while officially launching the EU Election Observation Mission to Sierra Leone on May 23rd at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.
“I am honoured to lead the EU Observation Mission to Sierra Leone, a country that has an important role to play in the West Africa region as well as on global scale. We, as a mission have the mandate to observe the election process and, we will conduct our observation in a strictly impartial manner,” said the Chief Observer.
The EU OEM had started its activities in Freetown on May 11 with the arrival of core team of 10 elections experts and their presence is in responses to an invitation extended by the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) for the general elections scheduled for June 24 this year.
Updating the media about their activities, Evin Incir said this week the EU EOM will deploy 28 long-term observers to cover all 16 districts of Sierra Leone, adding that they will also observe among other things the election preparations, the election campaign and the activities of electoral stakeholders.
The EU Chief Observer said closer to the elections day, 40 short-term observers will join the EU EOM to observe the voting, counting and tabulation of results. She said 10 other locally-recruited short-tier observers from the diplomatic missions of EU member states accredited to Sierra Leone will also join the EU EOM to observe the elections day proceedings.
“At full strength the EU EOM will comprise 100 observers drawn from 26 European Union Member states, with Canada and Norway,” she said.
She further highlighted that the aim of the EU EOM is to support the democratic consolidation, adding that it is also the joint responsibility of all political parties to maintain a peaceful pre-election environment in which fundamental rights and freedoms of all Sierra Leoneans are respected.
She concluded that the mission will issue a preliminary statement and hold a press conference in Freetown two days after the Election Day, adding that a final report, including recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented after the finalization of the entire electoral process.
Facts to know about the EU Observation Mission
The missions mandate is to observe all aspect of the electoral process and assess the extent to which the elections comply with the Sierra Leone’s law as well as with regional and international standards.
The EOM is independent in its findings from the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, EU member states and all EU institutions.
The EU will observe and assess the legal framework and its implementation, the work of the election administration, campaign activities, the role of state intuitions and civil society, the conduct of the media, voting and tabulation, the environment in which the election is being conducted as well as the complaints and appeals process.
The EU EOM will use among others the following assessment criteria during its observation of an electoral process, the degree of impartiality shown by the election administration, the degree of freedom of political parties and candidates to assemble and express their views, the degree of an open and fair contested campaign, the universal franchise afforded to voters and the degree of access to for political parties and candidates to state media and private media.
The main objectives of EU Election Observation are to support the democratic process in partner countries, to enhance public confidence in the electoral process and to strengthen respect for human rights and the rule of law.