What's In Blue

Posted Tue 27 Nov 2012

Sierra Leone Consultations

On Wednesday afternoon (28 November), the Security Council will hold consultations on the 17 November general elections held in Sierra Leone. (A briefing on Yemen had originally been scheduled, but that meeting has been postponed and replaced by the Sierra Leone briefing.) It is likely that Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), will brief the Council via video-link. (This is in line with resolution 2065 of 12 September, which requested a briefing from the Secretary-General on the conduct and outcome of the elections “shortly after” the elections.) A presidential statement seems likely to be adopted soon after the consultations.

Council members will be interested in receiving a viewpoint from the ground concerning the 17 November elections, which were largely free of violence. There were about 300 international observers monitoring the voting—from the AU, EU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Carter Center, a non-profit organisation which advocates human rights and the enhancement of freedom and democracy. All hailed the elections as reflecting the will of the voters, although the EU observers noted some irregularities. (The local monitoring group, National Elections Watch, which fielded observers at every poll station around the country, also noted irregularities, including “over-voting”.) The results were announced on 22 November by Christiana Thorpe, the chair of the National Electoral Commission. President Ernest Bai Koroma was re-elected with 1,314,881 (58.7 percent of valid votes cast) while Julius Maada Bio received 837,517 (37.4 percent). Voter turnout was high (87.3 percent).

The UK will likely circulate a draft presidential statement before tomorrow’s meeting and—if agreed—the statement will be adopted after the consultations. The text seems likely to welcome the success of the elections, focusing on their positive elements, and call on all political parties to accept the results and pursue any residual grievances regarding the conduct of the polls through the legal system. The statement will also likely mention the broader, positive impact of the elections on the consolidation of peace in the country, a point which several Council members have sought to emphasise despite reported incidents of voting irregularities.

Resolution 2065 extended the mandate of UNIPSIL until 31 March 2013, allowing it to perform a number of post-election tasks, including the preparation of a transition plan and exit strategy following the elections. The resolution also requested the Secretary-General to deploy a technical assessment mission to Sierra Leone in order to provide a report, by mid-February, with proposals and recommendations for UNIPSIL’s drawdown.

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