From Paul Ejime in Freetown, Sierra Leone |
Prof. Amos Sawyer, Head of ECOWAS Observation Mission has appealed to Sierra Leoneans to persevere through successful completion of the crucial electoral process as they go to the polls on 31st March to elect the country’s fifth president.
“At the end of the day, it is one Sierra Leone, the consolidation of peace and democracy in the country and the ECOWAS region,” the former Interim President of Liberia told journalists in Freetown on Wednesday, 28th March.
He enjoined political actors to resolve their differences using diplomatic and legal channels, noting that Sierra Leone and his country had passed through a recent difficult period, and “there is the need to encourage and support Sierra Leoneans to get it right with the on-going electoral process.”
The first round of general elections on March 7 ended inconclusively with the two frontrunners from the ruling APC and the main opposition SLPP now going for the second round vote on 31st March.
This followed a legal dispute taken to the High Court, which on Monday vacated its interim injunction suspending the run-off election earlier scheduled for 27 March, and the political mediation undertaken by heads of international election observation groups – Prof. Sawyer (ECOWAS); Kgalema Motlanthe (AU), John Mahama (Commonwealth) and Goodluck Jonathan (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
Prof. Sawyer commended the exemplary leadership demonstrated by the four African Statesmen, in swapping roles as election observers and political mediators, to ensure that all political actors and stakeholders in Sierra Leone were on the same page.
“This is consistent with the ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance, the fact that election is not a single event, and also that regime change is only through the ballot box and the will of the people,” the Head of ECOWAS mission said.
He noted that the Heads of Missions held wide consultations with stakeholders including leaders of the two political parties, the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Sierra Leone, civil society and out-going President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Meanwhile, at the instance of NEC, the Supreme Court on Wednesday validated the March 31st date for the run-off vote.
According to judicial sources, this decision forestalls any possible legal action over the legitimacy of the poll in view of the constitutional provision which stipulates that a run-off must take place within two weeks after declaration of the results of the first round of voting.