The 2023 general elections attested to Sierra Leoneans’ strong commitment to democracy. On 24 June citizens in large numbers went to the polls to elect the president, members of the parliament, mayors, and local councillors.
The recently revised legal framework gave hope for enhanced integrity in the conduct of the elections and greater gender parity in politics. However, voters’ trust in the credibility of elections was undermined by lack of transparency during critical stages of the process, particularly during the tabulation process, and by significant statistical inconsistencies in the results. An independent citizen observer group who voiced concerns was threatened and its leadership had to flee the country, which is indicative to democratic backsliding.
The timely and inclusive electoral reform of 2022 laid a sound basis for democratic elections. New laws included gender quota for party lists, as well as provisions that aimed to ensure ECSL’s financial independence and strengthen the mandate of other institutions involved in the elections. Legislative initiatives prior to the 2023 elections led to full implementation of five EU EOM 2018 recommendations, while another nine were partially implemented.
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