Concord Times (Freetown)

26 February 2013

Sierra Leone: Chief EU Observer Presents Final Report to Speaker of Parliament

The Chief Observer and Head of the EU Election Observation Mission to Sierra Leone, Richard Howitt, on Wednesday 20th February, 2013 in the Conference Room of Parliament formally presented the final report of the mission, including recommendations in view of the next electoral process to the Speaker and the leadership of Parliament.

Before presenting some of the recommendations contained therein, he said it was a proud moment for him as they were here on a long-term election observation mission. He described the elections as being fairly conducted and congratulated Sierra Leoneans as winners for their active participation in the entire electoral process, and assured of the EU's continued support and promotion of democracy in the country. Some of the concerns he highlighted from the report ranged from constitutional and legislative changes that are consistent with international best practices such as independent candidate to stand for presidency; 6 months instead of 12 months for public or civil servants who want to contest for elective positions; to repeal legislation on nomination fees; removal of serial numbers from ballot papers to maintain confidentiality; possibility of prisoners who are on remand to vote; adjustment on campaign calendar; government financing to political parties; amendment of Section 27 of the 1991 Constitution to give women greater participation; the media, passage of FOI bill, among others.

Questions and answers formed the highpoint of the presentation, and Mr. Speaker assured the EU team that the report will be looked into and studied carefully and necessary measures will be taken with regards to the recommendations contained therein.

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