African Union Election Observer Mission in Sierra Leone: Assessing the Credibility and Impact


Pan-African Parliament Electoral Observer Mission in Sierra Leone

The ongoing general elections in Sierra Leone have attracted international attention, with the African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM) playing a crucial role in assessing and reporting on the conduct of the electoral process. Led by H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the AUEOM delegation in Sierra Leone is comprised of 50 delegates, including 6 members of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).

According to its mandate, the AUEOM  electoral process report is formulated based on principles of regularity, transparency, equity, and fairness. The AUEOM’s assessment framework draws from various international and regional standards, including the legal framework governing elections in Sierra Leone, the AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation (PEMMO), and the International Declaration of Principles (DoP) for International Election Observation. Accordingly, the 2023 General Election in Sierra Leone is expected to be assessed in line with the following standards.

  • Legal Framework: The observer mission must find that the legal framework in Sierra Leone was acceptable for the conduct of democratic elections, in line with regional and international commitments. This implies that the mission would have evaluated the adherence to legal requirements for conducting elections.
  • Independence of the National Electoral Commission (NEC): The observer mission must assess neutrality of the NEC, and if it acted in an overall independent and impartial manner. This indicates that the mission assessed the and independence of the electoral management body.
  • Bometric Voter Registration (BVR): The mission will evaluate the implementation and assess effectiveness of the biometric voter registration system.
  • Freedoms of Assembly, Speech, and Movement: The observer mission must find that freedoms of assembly, speech, and movement were generally respected. An equal playing field in terms of media access and any case of abuse of incumbency will also be scrutinised. The mission will assess the level of respect for fundamental freedoms during the election campaign.
  • Women Representation: The observer mission will assess if the elections successfully  enhanced women’s representation in the parliament. This is based on the level of gender inclusivity in the electoral process.
  • Peaceful Electoral Process: In the event of fears of violence, the observer mission must observe that the electoral process was largely calm and peaceful. This is based on the overall security and stability during the elections.
  • Credibility and Consolidation of Democracy: The observer mission must  find that the elections were overally credible and conducive to the consolidation of democracy, which is theoretically achieved through elections.
  • Deficiencies in Electoral Process: The observer mission must assess adherence to electoral principles and international standards. Noting, if there were any deficiencies in the protection and promotion of full participation in the electoral process, including limitations on the right to stand for public office, secrecy of voting, and inadequate timeframes for complaints and appeals.
  • Nomination Criteria: The observer mission must evaluate the compliance of nomination criteria with international standards. Notably, the qualification criteria for the nomination of candidates must be in line with Sierra Leone’s international commitments.
  • Election Calendar and Campaign Conduct: The observer mission must assess if the election calendar issued by the NEC was not in breach of the campaign calendar by the two main parties, namely SLLP led by Maada Bio, and . The missions will have to assess the implementation of the election calendar and the conduct of political parties during the campaign

The AUEOM’s composition reflects a diverse range of expertise, including Pan-African Parliamentarians, Ambassadors accredited to the African Union, Officials of Election Management Bodies, members of African civil society organizations, African election experts, Human Rights specialists, gender and media experts, and representatives of youth organizations. This diversity is expected to bring a comprehensive perspective to the assessment process.

While the world awaits the outcome of the election, the deployment of the African Union Election Observer Mission, with the participation of members from the Pan-African Parliament, is an important step in promoting democracy and transparency in Sierra Leone’s general elections.

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