The UN Urges Peaceful Elections in Sierra Leone to Consolidate Peace
The United Nations envoy to Sierra Leone has called for the country’s elections in
November to be peaceful and democratic. The statement this week by the U.N. executive
representative to Sierra Leone, Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, called on political actors
to respect the pledge they made on 18 May, to hold free, fair and peaceful elections.
There have not been any reports of election-related violence so far. However, the
U.N. expressed concern about rising tensions, and in particular intense competition
between the two main political parties. Sierra Leone's presidential, parliamentary
and local elections will be what the United Nations calls a "crucial test" for the
country as it continues to rebuild following a brutal civil war that ended in 2002.
The Security Council announced Tuesday it would extend its peacekeeping mission in
Sierra Leone through March 2013. Current President Ernest Bai Koroma is seeking a
second term in office. He has been praised for reinforcing stability and economic
growth since his election in 2007. The president is expected to face stiff competition,
however, from former military leader Julius Maada Bio. Critics of Bio say he is not
fit for the presidency because of his poor human rights record, violations committed
during the NPRC military Junta in the 1990s. Campaigning officially kicks off on 17
October and voting takes place on 17 November.