The Government of Sierra Leone represented by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay and the Head of Delegation for the European Union (EU), Ambassador Tom VENS have on Wednesday 13 December 2017 signed an MOU concerning observation of the 2018 Elections at the Ministry’s Directors Conference room, Tower Hill, Freetown.
The signing of the MOU was necessitated following an invitation issued to the EU on the 14 March 2017 by the GoSL to observe the March 7, 2018 elections by deploying EU Observation Mission (EU EOM) in the country.
The Head of Delegation for the European Union (EU), Tom VENS in his brief remarks before the signing of the MOU said, he is delighted to sign the MOU to deploy EU-EOM in Sierra Leone noting that this is the fourth time the GoSL has invited the EU to deploy an observation mission. The EU he maintained, is a strong supporter to the democratic process in Sierra Leone underscoring that Sierra Leone is one of the good examples in the sub-region for democracy. Ambassador Tom VENS stated that the EU is happy to add credibility to the electoral process through the deployment of an EU-EOM. It is against this background the Ambassador disclosed, that the EU has made a grant of Two Million Euros (2M Euros) through the UNDP to support the 2018 electoral process. The EU Head of Delegation further disclosed that the EU will provide support to the National Elections Watch (NEW) in enhancing advocacy and their domestic observation capacities, and provide funds to NEC to sustain their current effort and to embark on post-election ventures.
Ambassador Tom VENS emphasised that the EU EOM and its members will maintain strict impartiality, objectivity and independence in the conduct of their mandate. ‘The EU-EOM will be visible in Sierra Leone in January 2018’, he concluded.
The Acting Minister of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay on behalf of the Government and the people of Sierra Leone expressed thanks and appreciation to the EU for honouring the Government’s invitation to observe the March 2018 Elections. The Acting Minister lauded Government’s commitment in promoting and sustaining democracy since 1996. He assured of Government’s cooperation in taking all necessary steps to facilitate the timely granting of visas to all observers, provide the necessary assistance required for the implementation of the EU-EOM’s mission in accordance with the laws in force in the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Dr. Gibril Sesay assured the EU-EOM observers of all adequate measures to ensure the personal safety of their members.
It could be recalled that in October 2017 the EU Election Exploratory Mission was in Sierra Leone and held discussions on the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in facilitating EU Observer Mission for the March 2018 elections in the country. The EU Election Exploratory Mission as part of its mandate arrived in the country to draft and finalise the MOU with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Foreign Ministry. The European Union Election Observation Mission comprised various technical experts, whose mandate was to assess the electoral climate and processes, to ascertain the degree to which the national laws support or inhibit compliance with international standards for elections. The outcome of their findings led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Sierra Leone that will lead to the deployment of EU Observer Mission in the country.
Present were: the Director General and Ambassador-at-Large, Deputy Director General for Operations and Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Directors of various Divisions and Heads of Sections of the Ministry.