Secretary-General appeals for calm on eve of elections in Sierra Leone
On the eve of run-off presidential elections in Sierra Leone, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced concern about violent incidents in the country and appealed to all parties to refrain from activities that could endanger stability.
Ernest Bai Koroma of the All People’s Congress and incumbent Vice-President Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People’s Party are vying to replace President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in tomorrow’s second-round poll.
A spokesperson for Mr. Ban said he is “deeply concerned about the recent incidents of harassment, intimidation and violence involving supporters of the two main Sierra Leone political parties and about the incidents of inflammatory rhetoric appearing in the local media.”
Through his spokesperson, the Secretary-General appealed to all Sierra Leonean parties and their supporters to refrain from activities that could endanger peace and stability.
Earlier this month, the two presidential candidates signed a communiqué on measures to try to calm tensions in Sierra Leone. In his statement today, Mr. Ban applauded “recent national and regional initiatives to bring the two remaining candidates together” and called on the people of Sierra Leone “to participate peacefully in tomorrow’s elections.”
The Secretary-General’s Executive Representative in Sierra Leone, Victor Angelo, also issued a statement calling for calm. He recalled how during last month’s vote, Sierra Leoneans “queued peacefully from as early as four in the morning to cast a vote for their future.”
Mr. Angelo voiced hope “that the same memorable, peaceful image will be visible across the country tomorrow.”
The election run-off between the two top presidential candidates will set in motion the final stages of the West African country’s first general elections since the departure of UN peacekeepers in 2005 and will mark the first time since the end of Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war that power is due to be handed from one civilian Government to another.
“Saturday’s vote will be the culmination of a long and demanding election process that has been crucial for the stability of Sierra Leone,” said Mr. Angelo, who cautioned that “it will be the responsibility of the political parties and their supporters to respect the peace and to accept the outcome.”
The two candidates who won the highest number of votes at the 11 August polls will compete for the country’s Presidency on 8 September. Mr. Koroma took 44 per cent of the vote, against 38 per cent for Vice-President Berewa. On Saturday, a majority vote will suffice for victory.