The Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, and Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s Country Specific Configuration for Sierra Leone, Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, has today briefed the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Ambassador Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh, on the exchanges held with national stakeholders during their three-day working visit to Sierra Leone.
In his brief, Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard said the objective of the visit was to receive an update on preparations for the presidential, legislative, and local elections scheduled for 7 March 2018 and to explore the political accompaniment and advocacy role the PBC can play in supporting Sierra Leone to hold free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. The delegation expressed appreciation for Government’s commitment to ensure peaceful and credible elections and a level playing field for all parties He underscored the confidence of the international community in Sierra Leone’s democratic system and its capacity to organize peaceful and credible elections.
The UN-PBC Chair maintained that the delegation had fruitful consultations with all interlocutors, on the level of preparedness for the electoral process, and was pleased to note progress achieved so far. The delegation congratulated the National Electoral Commission for meeting all planned deadlines, and commended the Government for the disbursement of funds to ensure the completion of the process, urging that all remaining funds be transferred in a timely fashion according to the agreed schedule.
Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard noted that this election comes after a series of successful elections recently held in West Africa, and called upon all political parties and their leaders as well as all other stakeholders to sustain their efforts to ensure that the country maintains this successful trend in the region. In this regard, urged all actors to exercise restraint and refrain from incitement and hate speech, and encouraged mechanisms for dialogue amongst political parties and other stakeholders. The UN-PBC Chair equally urged civil society, the private sector, and the media to be aware of their important roles, and called upon youth and women to engage and participate actively in the entire process, particularly encouraging political parties to redouble efforts to identify qualified female candidates to stand for elections.
He also called upon the security services, especially the police, to fulfill their responsibilities with professionalism and impartiality, and to provide security for the electoral process and in particular to the Presidential Candidates. ‘I encourage all actors to continue dialogue and open communication, and urged all parties to make use of existing legal and alternative dispute mechanisms to ensure prompt, fair and timely adjudication of electoral grievances and offences’, he added.
The Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission’s Country Specific Configuration for Sierra Leone, Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, reassured the Vice President and all national stakeholders of their commitment to continue their political accompaniment and advocacy role, and to provide all possible support to Sierra Leone in accomplishing the delivery of free, fair, transparent, peaceful, and credible elections in March.
Welcoming the UN-PBC delegation for and on behalf of His Excellency the President, the Government and the People of Sierra Leone, the Vice President Ambassador Dr. Victor Bockarie Foe expressed profound appreciation to the UN-PBC delegation for their peacebuilding concern for the country and reiterated the Government’s commitment in ensuring a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
The Vice President lauded the support of the UN PBC for Sierra Leone, while informing that the Government has put every effort in sustaining peace and stability in the country which has stimulated several development programmes around the country.
The PBC delegation, which also included Sierra Leone’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah, met with members of the Government of Sierra Leone, including the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of Defence Staff, and members of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and the Office of National Security. The delegation also met with the Chair and Commissioners of the National Electoral Commission, the Chair and Deputy Chair of the National Human Rights Commission, the Chair of the National Commission for Democracy, and the Chair of the Independent Media Commission. Other meetings and consultations included political parties and the Political Parties Registration Commission, the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone, representatives of civil society, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), members of the diplomatic corps and development partners in Sierra Leone, members of the media, and private sector representatives.
The UN-PBC delegation was accompanied to the office of the Vice President by the Director General and Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Deputy Director General for Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Directors of various Divisions and Heads of Sections of the Ministry.