West Africa Women Elections Observers (WAWEO) has said in their preliminary report that the 2012 Sierra Leone general elections was conducted in a responsible and orderly manner.
Chairperson of WAWEO, Madam Eunice Roberts said that on November 17th 2012, WAWEO observers were deployed to different areas of Sierra Leone including Bo, Kenema, Freetown (Urban & Rural).
She said that this election has been historic, seeing that it was the first time that four major elections were undertaken at the same time, adding that it is too early to give an overall judgement on the elections process since collations are still on-going.
The Chairperson stated that that judgement will be provided in their final report.
Madam Roberts reiterated that “the people of Sierra Leone, the political leaders and their parties deserve to be congratulated on their commitment to democratic values and ethics particularly to free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections”.
She paid tribute to the women of Sierra Leone who fully participated in the electoral process as candidates, observers, party agents, polling station staff and security officers, and those who came in their large numbers to vote. “I also wish to congratulate them on the setting up of the women situation room and being on call throughout the voting process”.
The Chairperson noted that “the general atmosphere before and during the elections were essentially peaceful with relatively few incidents recorded. We are however, yet to determine the impact of the ban of vehicular movement on Election Day on voter turnout”.
She stated that all over the world, organising elections continue to face challenges. We therefore commend Dr. Christiana A. M. Thorpe, the Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone and her staff on their overall performance.
However, she said they did observe some logistical problems on Election Day in some polling stations. For instance, voting did not start on time in some stations due to late arrival of elections materials and inability of voters to locate their stations. There were long queues particularly at the opening of the polls about voters showed great patience and endurance during this time.
Madam Roberts revealed that in some places where our observers were present the marking of ballot papers in privacy and secrecy was not assured because the voting screens were not properly set up.
In spite of these defects, the conduct of the 2012 elections represents a major step forward for democracy in Sierra Leone.
Our final report of our observations will be disseminated shortly. Meanwhile we wish the people of Sierra Leone well in their efforts to build on their achievements and to ensure that this country’s democracy is full, certain and enduring.