Ahead of Wednesday's general elections in Sierra Leone, former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the people of the West African nation to conduct peaceful and credible polls.
The former president, who is leader of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, EISA, Observer Mission to the March 7 elections gave the advice while meeting with different stakeholders in Freetown.
A statement by Mr. Jonathan's media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, said he had met with Sierra Leonean President Ernest Koroma, chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Mohammed Conteh, chairman of the Political Party Registration Council (PPRC) Patrick Hamilton, some presidential candidates as well as leaders of the international community, youth associations, media unions, security outfits and civil society organisations.
While advising the stakeholders to ensure non-violent processes during elections, Mr. Jonathan also stressed "the need to sustain the peace that the good people of Sierra Leone have been enjoying since the end of the civil war."
"As Africans we have to avoid the temptation of playing politics of desperation. It should be played without bitterness or rancour, with our mind focused on development and the welfare of our people."
He added that the mission was in the country to support "the integrity of the electoral processes through diligent observation of the polling activities in line with the rules and code of conduct for international election observers."
While welcoming Mr. Jonathan to his office, the PPRC boss thanked the former Nigerian president for his roles and contributions to the growth of democracy in Sierra Leone.
He said: "I believe that the reason you are here is to see that we have something similar to the credible and transparent elections you organized as President of Nigeria."
Speaking in the same vein, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, Sierra Leonean Peoples Party (SLPP) Julius Maada, noted that the presence of Mr. Jonathan and other "former African Presidents in Sierra Leone was an indication that democracy is on the rise on the continent."
Meanwhile the international election observation missions (IEOMs) present in Sierra Leone on Tuesday issued a joint statement urging the people of the country to ensure that these elections "are transparent, credible and conducted in accordance with prescribed laws and regulations."
The statement issued by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), The Commonwealth, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), European Union (EU), and The Carter Center (TCC). reads: "We recognise that the 2018 elections in Sierra Leone, the fourth since the end of the civil war, are critical to the maintenance of peace and stability in the country.
Based on consultations with Sierra Leonean stakeholders over the past weeks, have noted the efforts of the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration Commission, the Judiciary, the Office of National Security, the Sierra Leone Police, civil society, the media and other key institutions towards the conduct of peaceful and transparent elections.
"We call on the political leaders, parties and their supporters to ensure peaceful elections and respect for the rule of law as they go to the polls tomorrow (Wednesday) and through the results tallying process. Further urge them to uphold their commitments under the 'Freetown Declaration', which was signed by presidential candidates on 28 February 2018.
"We further call on the NEC and party polling agents to conduct their duties in a professional manner, which would ensure that these elections are transparent, credible and conducted in accordance with prescribed laws and regulations.
"We encourage candidates to accept the outcome of the elections in line with Article 9 of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (2001) and, in the event of complaints or disputes, encourage candidates to seek redress through legal channels whilst at all times refraining from acts of violence and intimidation.
"We look to the government of Sierra Leone to uphold its constitutional obligations to provide a secure environment that guarantees the safety of candidates, voters, NEC officials and electoral materials. The missions urge the security agencies throughout the country to demonstrate professionalism and to enforce the law in a neutral and proportional manner. The different IEOMs have deployed over 250 international observers across the country to follow all aspects of election day and some will remain to observe the tallying process and post-election period.
"The IEOMs present in Sierra Leone would like to take the opportunity to wish the citizens of Sierra Leone well in the exercise of their democratic rights; and pledge our unequivocal commitment to support the people of Sierra Leone to ensure a peaceful and credible conclusion of the electoral process."