European observers are praising Sierra Leone’s elections as peaceful and well-organized, though they expressed concern about post-election unrest. The country’s National Electoral Commission is still tallying up the results from Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary and local elections. The chief of the European Union election observer mission, Richard Howitt, said the voting Saturday had gone smoothly. “We describe this election as being a well-conducted election, it is conducive to democratic consolidation, that has occurred on an unlevel playing field but in a largely peaceful atmosphere,” he said. Howitt said he hopes there will be peaceful acceptance of the results.
After a peaceful day of voting in the presidential, parliamentary and local elections on Saturday, locals crowded around crackling radios releasing unofficial results from individual polling stations. Sporadic cheering erupted in communities across the capital Freetown, a traditional stronghold of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC), as results trickled in. Polling officials counted votes throughout the night, mostly by lantern light, under the watch of observers, party officials, police and soldiers.
Sierra Leoneans are going to the polls on Saturday to elect their leaders. Although 10 parties are slugging it out, the contest is between two prominent parties. Like most political contests in Africa, the election is already assuming frightening dimensions with attacks of political opponents, mudslinging, and breeding of fear, as reported by veteran journalist, Lindsay Barret. Reports coming out of Sierra Leone indicate that objective observers of that West African nation’s affairs are increasingly anxious over the course of what may eventually be regarded as the most important and closely fought of four elections held since its civil war ended a little over a decade ago.