Sierra Leone: the election opportunity

Sierra Leone: the election opportunity

Will security and transparency be upheld in the August 2007 elections in Sierra Leone?

The 2007 elections will be a crucial test of whether Sierra Leone has definitely turned away from conflict in favour of security and democratic governance. Renewed political vibrancy has opened up competition but heightened rivalry between the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the breakaway People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) andthe elections will be a substantial test of the government, new security forces and media.

Key issues are:

  • unemployment - which has led to youth marginalisation
  • the widespread corruption in public services
  • economic mismanagement needs to be tackled in order to dispel Sierra Leone’s reputation as a poor place for investment
  • the perception that the judiciary is unjust and subservient to the executive.
  • the entrenched domination of the chieftancy in local councils which contributes to alienation among the young.

The elections must be violence-free and fair for their results to be respected. The authors state that this can come about if: 

  • political parties respect the voluntary Code of Conduct, condemning violence and calls for violence, deploying witnesses to voting stations and committing to post-electoral reforms 
  • the National Election Committee addresses any election administrative shortcomings, ensures a decentralised approach to security and supports civil groups to sensitise chiefs to the importance of impartiality 
  • the Government of Sierra Leone ensures even-handed policing, impartial state media coverage of the elections and the correct use of funds for campaigning 
  • donors provide technical and logistical support during the election period, engage with the new administration and provide funds for youth unemployment projects 
  • UN Peacebuilding Commission communicates locally the apolitical nature of its funding
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