By Jacob Kubeka –
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, has approved the deployment of 95 Election Observers (Long and Short-Term – LTOs/STOs) to observe the forthcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone scheduled for June 24, 2023.
The deployment of the observer team 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.
ECOWAS has also provided Sierra Leone with $500,000 USD financial support for the elections.
The Election Observation Mission (EOM) will be led by Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a 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, with Ansumana Ceesay, former ECOWAS Representative in Liberia and Guinea-Bissau to serve as Deputy Head of Mission.
The Mission will be assisted by an ECOWAS Technical Team to be led by Amb. Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security.
The 15 LTOs, who depart for Freetown on 15th June, will be led by Serigne Mamadou Ka, Acting Head of the ECOWAS Election Assistance Division (EAD). The team comprises experts in election administration, gender, conflict management, security, legal and constitutional issues, and the media.
From 20th June, the LTOs will be joined by 80 STOs drawn from the ECOWAS Permanent Representatives’ Committee, Member States, Foreign Affairs Ministries and Electoral Management Bodies, the ECOWAS Council of the Wise, Community institutions (Parliament and Court of Justice), Civil Society Organizations, the Media, and election observers.
Thirteen candidates from 17 registered political parties are vying for the Sierra Leone presidency, including incumbent President Julius Maada Bio, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
The SLPP defeated the then ruling All People’s Congress (APC), in the last presidential election in 2018.
Some 135 Parliamentary and 493 Local Council seats will also be in contention on 24th June.
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.
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.
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.