26 November 2012

Sierra Leone: Ban Congratulates Winner of Presidential Election, Calls for Unity

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated Ernest Bai Koroma on his win in Sierra Leone's presidential election, and called on him and all political leaders in the country to maintain calm and work towards unity and reconciliation.

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban also lauded Sierra Leone's institutions for carrying out recently the first presidential, parliamentary, local council and mayoral elections run entirely but he Government on a peaceful manner, saying that this demonstrates the people's strong commitment to consolidating democracy and development.

For 11 years, Sierra Leone was torn by a civil war after the rebel Revolutionary United Front intervened in an attempt to overthrow the country's then-President Joseph Momoh.

The conflict, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, was often punctuated by acts of extreme brutality as marauding bands of armed youths terrorized the countryside, conscripting child soldiers and used the amputation of limbs as an intimidation method against civilians.

"The Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of all Sierra Leoneans working together in the period ahead," Mr. Ban's spokesperson added in the statement.

"In that regard, the Secretary-General welcomes President Koroma's pledge to reach out to all Sierra Leoneans and to promote national reconciliation and unity."

The 17 November elections were the country's third since the end of its civil war, and the second since the withdrawal of the peacekeeping operation known as the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in December 2005. That mission was replaced by various other UN offices, most recently the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL), which focuses on political and development activities.

Mr. Ban also stressed the responsibility of the country's political leaders to maintain the atmosphere of calm that prevailed during the election process, and urged all sides to address any outstanding grievances peacefully through established national mechanisms and institutions.

"The Secretary-General is confident that the strong partnership between the United Nations and Sierra Leone will continue in the best interest of the people of Sierra Leone," the statement added.

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