African Union Deploys Election Observers in Sierra Leone

ADDIS ABABA – The African Union has deployed its Election Observation Mission in Sierra Leone ahead of the June 24 general elections in the country.

The AUC chairperson Faki Mahamat sent the observers on Tuesday following an invitation by the Government and the Electoral Commission of the West African nation.

The mission of 50 Short Term Observers (STOs) is being led by Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn.

About 3.4 million Sierra Leoneans are expected to vote in the fifth presidential election since the end of a 1991-2002 civil war.

The incumbent President Julius Maada Bio who is seeking a second and final term, is seen as the front-runner in the race involving candidates

His biggest challenger is Samura Kamara of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party, reports say. Kamara narrowly lost to Bio in the last 2018 election.

If no candidate secures 55 percent of valid votes cast in the first ballot, the top two candidates will head to a run-off two weeks after the announcement of the first-round result.

On Saturday, voters will also elect members of parliament and local councils across the West African state.

The Union says its mission will assess and report on the conduct of the general elections based “on the regularity, transparency, equity and fair conduct of the electoral process.”

The Mission will release its Preliminary statement on overall findings and assessment of the elections on 26 June 2023 in Freetown while a final and comprehensive Report is expected to be published within two months from the date of announcement of the final result.