Tuesday, August 21, 2007

ECOWAS President Praises Sierra Leone Warns Parties and Security Forces Against Violence as They Await Results

On behalf of the Community, I wish to congratulate you, the Government and people of the Republic of Sierra Leone, for the exemplary conduct of the 11 August 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections and to urge you to maintain the same sense of purpose, discipline and patience as the electoral process enters its final and decisive phase.

The ECOWAS Observer Mission, international and local observers, the media and, indeed, all keen observers of Sierra Leonean politics, are unanimous in their verdict that the elections were conducted in an atmosphere of unprecedented peace, transparency and credibility; that the political parties and candidates engaged in a keen, tolerant and healthy contest; and that the people turned out in their numbers to freely exercise their franchise with determination, tolerance and patience. Crucial to this success story has been the acute sense of duty and professionalism of the National Electoral Commission, the role of the security forces in maintaining the peace, and the civility, determination and courage demonstrated by the people.

Sierra Leone and the ECOWAS region have paid a very high price for the extremism and intolerance of the recent past. By the conduct of these elections, the people have once again demonstrated their commitment to firmly turn their backs on the bitter past and build a future of prosperity, dignity and democracy in the spirit of peace and national reconciliation. It is in this spirit that I exhort the Government, political parties, candidates, the electorate and all other stakeholders to continue to act in a manner that would not overheat the political atmosphere as we await the verdict of the people.

ECOWAS is closely monitoring the situation and I wish to remind you once more of your collective and individual responsibilities for consolidating peace and democracy in Sierra Leone. All must desist from any acts of commission or omission that are likely to heighten tensions or destabilise the political atmosphere at this critical juncture in the country’s history. In that regard, I urge the security forces to continue to adhere to the rule of law and maintain their vigilance. I appeal to all political parties, candidates and their supporters to accept the verdict of the electoral commission, to be dignified in victory and graceful in defeat, and to employ exclusively peaceful and constitutional means to seek redress to any grievances.

In the event that the presidential election goes to a run-off, ECOWAS will once more deploy an observer mission to accompany the process.

STANDARD TIMES PRESS SIERRA LEONE ECOWAS President Praises Sierra Leone Warns Parties and Security Forces Against Violence as They Await Results PAGE