Expected Council Action
The Council will likely be briefed in November by Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen (Denmark), the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), as well as by Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada), chair of the Sierra Leone configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), after presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone on 17 November, in line with resolution 2065.
A press statement will be the likely outcome. The mandate of UNIPSIL expires on 31 March 2013.
Key Recent Developments
On 12 September, the Council adopted resolution 2065 extending UNIPSIL’s mandate and requesting a briefing from the Secretary-General on the conduct and outcome of the elections “shortly after” the elections. This followed a briefing from Toyberg-Frandzen and Rishchynski. The resolution authorised UNIPSIL to assist Sierra Leone through elections in November and also mandated the mission to perform a number of post-election tasks, including the preparation of a transition plan and exit strategy. It called on the government and all political parties in the country to “promote a culture of non-violence.”
(The Council last considered Sierra Leone on 9 October, when it received a briefing from Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Brenda Hollis, the Chief Prosecutor of the Court, on the residual work of the Court. That briefing led to a presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/21) in which the Council emphasised the “vital need for further pledges of voluntary contributions in order to allow the Special Court to complete its mandate in a timely manner.”)
Two days after resolution 2065 was adopted, the government announced the reversal of astronomical increases in nomination fees for presidential, parliamentary and local council candidates. Christiana Thorpe, the chair of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), had announced the increases on 31 July: the fee for presidential candidates went from 1 million leones (about $230) to 100 million leones ($23,057.40) and for parliamentary candidates from 100,000 leones ($23) to 25 million leones (about $5,764). With the government’s announcement, the fees reverted to the previous rates for all candidates.
The participation of women in the electoral process at all levels—a key Council concern—may have been negatively affected by the July increase in nomination fees. On 15 October, when the NEC published the figures for candidates for public office, all nine presidential contenders were men, and out of the 586 parliamentary candidates, only 38 were women. This is below the regional average, and far below the target set by the Beijing Platform for Action following the landmark 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone had warned on 14 August that the fee increases constituted “a potential ground for discrimination against low income earners and vulnerable groups,” including women. The reduction in fees may have come too late.
On 2 October, the NEC released the official voter registration figure, stating that the final roll this year is 2,692,635 voters.
The AU has announced the deployment of 40 election observers, and the Carter Center has already deployed a team that will be led by former Zambian President Rupiah Banda. The Economic Community of West African States and the EU will also be deploying monitors.
Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)
The PBC’s Sierra Leone configuration met on 2 October in New York. The meeting, which focused on the forthcoming elections in Sierra Leone, included statements by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph B. Dauda and Minister of Finance Samura Kamara (via video-link from Freetown), as well as representatives of Benin, Egypt, Indonesia, the UK and the US, among others. At the end of the meeting, Rishchynski, who chaired the proceedings, announced a field trip to Sierra Leone from 31 October to 6 November, ahead of the elections. (Resolution 2065 encourages the PBC “to continue providing support to the government of Sierra Leone, UNIPSIL and the United Nations country team in the preparation and conduct of the 2012 elections.”)
The elections will be the second since the UN withdrew a large peacekeeping force from Sierra Leone in 2006, replacing it with a small peacebuilding office. The elections of 2007 successfully led to the transfer of power from the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) to the All People’s Congress (APC) led by President Ernest Bai Koroma, but they were contentious. Thorpe, at the head of the NEC, invalidated 169,054 votes from 477 polling stations on the grounds that there had been “over-voting” in those stations and that the invalidations “have not affected the outcome.” But almost all the stations where votes were invalidated were in areas that vote overwhelmingly for the SLPP. Its presidential candidate, Solomon Berewa, contended that had Thorpe not invalidated the votes the final result would have been 969,705 votes cast in his favour and 950,407 votes cast in favour of Koroma (two of the NEC commissioners refused to sign the results because of the invalidation). He claimed to have accepted the results only in the interest of the peace and stability of the country.
The key issue for the Council is that the November elections are not only conducted peacefully, but that the results are broadly accepted and seen as legitimate.
A closely related issue is the fact that broad acceptance of the electoral outcome would allow for a smooth transition of UNIPSIL to a UN country office in 2013.
Council members view Sierra Leone as a success story and are in agreement that the outcome of the elections should determine the nature of the transition process.
The UK is the lead country in the Council on Sierra Leone.
UN Documents on Sierra Leone
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 September 2012 S/RES/2065||This resolution extended UNIPSIL’s mandate until 31 March 2013.|
|14 September 2011 S/RES/2005||This resolution renewed the mandate of the UNIPSIL for a period of 12 months.|
|31 August 2012 S/2012/679||Secretary-General’s report on UNIPSIL (Sierra Leone).|
|14 March 2012 S/2012/160||This was a midterm report of the Secretary-General on UNIPSIL.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 September 2012 S/PV.6829||Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen (Denmark), the head of UNIPSIL, briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2012/679). Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada), the chair of the PBC configuration for Sierra Leone, and Ambassador Shekou M. Touray (Sierra Leone) also addressed the Council.|
|31 May 2012 S/PV.6777||This was the briefing on the Council’s visit to West Africa from 18 to 24 May.|
|22 March 2012 S/PV.6739||This was a briefing by Michael von der Schulenburg, who was withdrawn from Sierra Leone on 6 February as the Secretary-General’s Executive Representative for UNIPSIL.|
|Peacebuilding Commission Document|
|30 January 2012 S/2012/70||This was the PBC’s fifth annual report.|
Other Relevant Facts
Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNIPSIL
Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen (Denmark)
Size and Composition of Mission
Staff strength (as of 30 September 2012): 35 international civilians, 31 local civilians, eight UN volunteers and seven police
1 October 2008 to present
Chair of the Sierra Leone Configuration of the PBC
Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada)
Useful Additional Source
Solomon E. Berewa, A New Perspective on Governance, Leadership, Conflict and Nation Building in Sierra Leone, (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011).