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Secretary-General welcomes peaceful staging of polls in Sierra Leone

Secretary-General welcomes peaceful staging of polls in Sierra Leone

Ban Ki-moon
Welcoming the successful staging of Sierra Leone’s first presidential and parliamentary elections since United Nations peacekeepers departed at the end of 2005, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the people of the West African country to maintain calm as the votes are counted in the days ahead.

Mr. Ban was pleased to learn that the balloting took place on Saturday “in a generally peaceful atmosphere, with high voter turnout,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General congratulates the people of Sierra Leone for showing their commitment to the consolidation of peace and democracy in their country, and commends the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and Sierra Leone’s security agencies for putting in place security and administrative arrangements that facilitated the efficient conduct of the polling process,” the statement said.

As vote counting continues over the coming days, Mr. Ban called on all Sierra Leoneans “to preserve an atmosphere of calm and public order, and to resolve any potential disputes through the established legal channels.”

The Secretary-General’s views echo earlier remarks by his Executive Representative in Sierra Leone, Victor Angelo, who noted that UN officials were assisting NEC staff and both national and international observers were also monitoring the process.

The UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) also issued two statements today after questions were raised in Kailahun and Kenema districts about the processing of election results there.

UNIOSIL said the processing of results was going according to plan, and the tamper-evident envelopes containing the consolidated results for each polling centre “are very safe and cannot be tampered with.”

Saturday’s vote was Sierra Leone’s second since the end of the decade-long civil war in 2002, and the first since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in December 2005.