His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has received delegations from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and the African Union, AU, that are on a fact-finding mission and to gauge the level of the country’s preparedness for the June 24 multitier elections.
Leader of the delegation, Commissioner Ambassador Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, thanked the President for the reception and said their visit was in fulfillment of the two main protocols of the regional economic bloc, Ecowas and the continental union, the AU.
“The ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance obligate these two bodies to render necessary assistance to member states on the eve of the organisation of their elections,” he said.
Dr Musah added that the team would also engage the different political parties, civil society groups, traditional leaders and other parties that were part of the electioneering processes.
“After our visit, we will put our report together for the attention of the President of the African Union, who will give assistance where needed,” he ended.
In his brief response, President Bio welcomed the team and informed its members that he once led a process to a democratic rule after 30 years of authoritarian rule, adding that he was also pleased to lead the country again into another democratic election.
He made reference to his government’s efforts at taking anti-democratic laws and barriers out of the way, including expunging sections of the 1965 Public Order Act that criminalised free speech and abolishing the death penalty, which political opponents feared in the past.
“I have, therefore, broadened democratic space. I also, urge the election steering committee, which our international partners are also part of, to discuss the rules and agree on them, way ahead of time. That way, we can go into the elections with a clear mind,” he said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Republic of Sierra Leone State House.