Sierra Leone conducts peaceful and well-conducted Presidential Elections

International observers say Sierra Leone’s presidential election over the weekend was largely peaceful and well-conducted.

Observers from the European Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center are releasing their preliminary findings Monday. EU chief observer Richard Howitt told reporters that there had been some isolated, small-scale incidents during Saturday’s vote. Those included reports of governing party officials distributing gifts with “a significant amount of money involved.”

Saturday’s vote was Sierra Leone’s third presidential election since the end of a brutal 11-year civil war in 2002, and only the second since the departure of U.N. peacekeepers.

“The world is watching us. Let us don’t disappoint them.” The National election officials spread that message through posters afixed to tin shacks and traffic circles throughout the capital of Freetown.
“We’ve been through a lot in the last 20 years. Now we’re trying to move forward,” said Mannah Kpukumu, 36, a civil servant waiting in a line that snaked near a giant cotton tree long before dawn. “We the young guys want employment and to be able to take care of our families.”
Sierra Leone already has successfully held mostly peaceful votes since the end of the war. This time the country is bearing the sole responsibility for securing the vote, even though it is being organized with substantial foreign aid of some 46 percent of the election budget.

“Sierra Leone has experienced 11 years of war and now we want peace. So when the results are finally declared, if the elections are conducted in a free, fair and credible manner, everybody should accept it and cooperate with the government of the day,” said Marian Faux, who was voting in Freetown.

Sierra Leone’s electoral commission has yet to release official results that will indicate whether the vote will go to a second round. The winning candidate needs to garner at least 55% to avoid a runoff.

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