Sierra Leone: UN official urges more people to register for upcoming elections

Sierra Leone: UN official urges more people to register for upcoming elections

As the voter registration process in Sierra Leone draws to a close, a senior official with the United Nations Mission, known as UNAMSIL, has urged more Sierra Leoneans to sign up for the presidential and parliamentary elections slated for 14 May.

Speaking over the weekend at one of the registration centres in the district town of Pujehun, Alan Doss, UNAMSIL’s Deputy in charge of Governance and Stabilization, said the Mission was “happy” that many Sierra Leoneans had registered. “We hope more of you will do so within the next few days.”

He said that it was time to start rebuilding Sierra Leone’s infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. “But you can’t have them unless you have peace,” he told hundreds of people who were waiting to register as voters. “We hope to consolidate peace through an election in which you should all vote. But before you can vote, you have to register to vote.”

Despite some minor logistical problems, such as a shortage of voting paper caused by transport problems, the exercise was proceeding smoothly, the Deputy Special Representative said, adding that he would inform officials of Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) about some of the difficulties the people were facing.

The NEC has set up 228 registration centres in Pujehun District and 344 in Kailahun District, according to UNAMSIL, which noted that despite some difficulties, thousands of people had registered in the district and many more were still turning up at registration sites.

The UN Mission meanwhile said it was awaiting the arrival of a delegation of international donors for consultations with officials from the Government of Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL, UN agencies, as well as national and international non-governmental organizations.

The primary aim of the visit is to mobilize international support and resources to address Sierra Leone’s humanitarian and recovery needs. In November 2001, the UN launched an $88.6 million Interagency Consolidated Appeal to address relief requirements. According to Mr. Doss, the donors will focus their attention on the reintegration of ex-combatants recently disarmed by UNAMSIL, and the economic reconstruction and rehabilitation work.