Sierra Leone’s presidential run-off earlier scheduled for 27 March was on Monday pushed forward to Saturday 31st March following an agreement by the two political parties and the National Electoral Commission (NEC), at a meeting facilitated by Heads of International Observers.
Heads of observation missions that facilitated the accord were Prof Amos Sawyer (ECOWAS); John Mahama (Commonwealth); Goodluck Jonathan (EISA, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa), and Kgalima Motlanthe (AU).
The flag bearers Dr Samura Kamara of the ruling SLPP and his opposition counterpart rtd Brig. Julius Maada Bio, who are contesting in the run-off vote, led their parties at the meeting, while NEC officials were led by its chairman Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteh.
The meeting, which also addressed contentious issues, followed the vacation of an interim injunction issued by a Freetown High Court suspending the vote earlier fixed for 27 March.
It was also agreed that NEC complies with the High Court order, on the ballot tallying and result management, and with cooperation of all stakeholders for the conduct of a peaceful and credible election.
With the vacation of the Court order and the consensus by the key political stakeholders, NEC is expected to put the process in motion to ensure a successful electoral process.
These are Sierra Leone’s fourth elections since the end of its 11-year civil war in 2002 and the first time national authorities will assume full responsibility for an electoral process since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in 2014.
The two presidential candidates emerged runners up from the first round general elections of March 7 and the winner will replace outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is completing his constitutionally allowed two mandates of five years each