A Commonwealth election observer group of 14 representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific are making final preparations ahead of the general election in Sierra Leone.
Led by former Ghanaian President John Mahama, the observers arrived in the country following an invitation from the government and have been visiting cities and towns across the West African country to observe the pre-election period.
The delegates held briefings with political party representatives, civil society members, security forces and the media in order to assess the electoral environment.
Candidates from 16 parties have put themselves forward in the presidential race, with the victor required to secure 55% of votes.
Polling stations open on March 7, 2018 and voters will also elect parliamentary and local government leaders in their 5th general election since the country’s return to multi-party democracy in 1996.
Observation group leader Mahama said: “Sierra Leone has made significant strides on its journey towards consolidating its democracy, and if the country is to make these gains and move forward, it is important that Sierra Leoneans are able to cast their vote in a credible election, where all parties are given access to a level playing field.
“Our duty as Commonwealth observers is to pay close attention to how these elections are being conducted, to see if they meet up to the standards for democratic elections to which Sierra Leone has committed itself, and to determine whether the credibility of the electoral process as a whole is intact.”
“As a member of the Commonwealth family, we hope that as Sierra Leone takes another step forward in strengthening its democracy, and that our presence here conveys a message of support to the Sierra Leonean people.”