Concord Times (Freetown)

19 October 2012

Sierra Leone: U.S, British Envoys Satisfied With Election Preparations

The United States Ambassador and British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone yesterday expressed their satisfaction with the level of preparations for the November 17 general elections.

In a joint press conference hosted at the US Embassy office in Freetown, Michael S. Owen (United States Ambassador) and Ian Hughes (British High Commissioner) emphasized the importance of the polls and registered their support for a peaceful process. They maintained that the country has made remarkable achievements since the end of the brutal rebel war.

For his part, High Commissioner Hughes stated that elections make possible things that are not successful, adding that the November polls are unique because they are the third democratic elections after the war.

"This is the first election that Sierra Leone is in charge. Democracy is not election but dialogue between the people and their government. It is a significant achievement to register over six million people for the election. Preparations by NEC and others are on track," he stated.

He noted that the United Kingdom is the largest contributor to the United Nations basket fund for the election, and added that £2 million has been provided to civil society for management and monitoring of the polls.

High Commissioner Hughes opined that Sierra Leone is a fantastic model for other African countries to emulate, while expressing optimism that the elections will be peaceful.

In his brief statement, Ambassador Owen stated that this year is important for both countries (Sierra Leone and America) as they are going to the polls to elect a president. "We are very pleased to see the progress made so far in the run-up to the election. We are also keen to see that Sierra Leone makes a transition in a democratic manner," he said.

He added that they will only support peaceful elections and not involved in the campaign period, while pointing out that one of the success stories of the country is the reform of the military.

Ambassador Owen said his country has made significant contributions to the holding of the elections, citing the funding for the training of 150 women on how to do political campaigning, support to NEC and resource and documentation center, dance for social change-drama featuring tolerance and non-violence skits and electoral security program among others.

The support of the U.S. to the 2012 elections amounted $4,329,818.

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