The United States commends the people of Sierra Leone who turned out in overwhelming numbers to vote.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma was sworn in for a second term on November 23, following a closely watched election that served as key test of democratic rule in the West African nation. The National Electoral Commission announced that the president received almost 59 percent of the vote, exceeding the 55 percent needed to avoid a run-off. The president’s leading rival, retired General Julius Maada Bio, got 37 percent in a determined challenge.
The elections are the third since the end of a lengthy civil war a decade ago. International observers reported that the campaigns and voting proceeded without serious incident, and while there were a small number of polling stations where cast ballots exceeded the number of registered voters, those results were nullified by the electoral commission and were too few to have had an effect on the election’s final outcome.
The United States commends the people of Sierra Leone who turned out in overwhelming numbers to vote in the first post-war election completely run by Sierra Leonean institutions. Free, fair and peaceful elections are critical for consolidating the West African nation’s democratic and economic gains.
We also congratulate President Koroma on his re-election, and urge all parties to accept the results as representing the will of the nation’s electorate. Any grievances related to the election must be resolved through the country’s courts, in accordance with the rule of law.
We urge all party leaders to refrain from actions that incite violence or encourage acts of retribution. After 11 years of civil conflict in which more than 50,000 people died, the nation has come too far in rebuilding political, social and economic institutions to turn back now. The National Electoral Commission, Political Parties Registration Commission and other stakeholders must address any electoral deficiencies and further Sierra Leonean democracy.