August 11th, 2007 05:34 EST
Secretary-General calls on Sierra Leonean voters to ensure peaceful elections
On the eve of Sierra Leone’s first presidential and parliamentary elections since the departure of United Nations peacekeepers two years ago, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to voters in the West African nation to ensure a peaceful ballot.
Saturday’s vote will be the country’s second since the end of the decade-long civil war in 2002, and the first since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in December 2005.
While pleased that the elections will take place tomorrow, as scheduled, Mr. Ban is “deeply concerned about recent and ongoing incidents of violence involving supporters of main Sierra Leonean political parties,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General emphasizes that free, fair and credible elections, which reflect the wishes of the people of Sierra Leone, are crucial to securing the peace that has been built in Sierra Leone and to paving the way for development and prosperity in the future.”
The UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and other international partners have provided technical assistance to the country’s National Electoral Commission to ensure that the preparations for the election meet international standards.
Mr. Ban paid tribute to the international partners that have provided logistical, financial and technical support to the National Electoral Commission, and commended the Commission for making the necessary arrangements on schedule.
Preparations for tomorrow’s polls included the training of 37,000 polling staff to ensure a credible election day.