Waging Peace: Sierra Leone
2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
Sierra Leone held presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections on Nov. 17, 2012. The presidential elections were the third to take place since the end of the devastating war in Sierra Leone, and the first elections that were fully self-administered. This represented a significant step for the country toward a functioning post-conflict democracy.
In September, The Carter Center deployed eight long-term observers from six countries to launch an international election observation mission. The Center's observers, who were deployed to each of the four regions of Sierra Leone, and the Freetown-based core team remained in Sierra Leone for the seven weeks prior to the election. In November, this team was joined by a larger short-term delegation, composed of 40 observers from 18 countries, to witness election day processes in all 14 districts. The Center found the process to be generally orderly and transparent and in general accordance with Sierra Leone's legal framework and obligations for democratic elections. While the Center noted some limited administrative shortcomings, observers reported that the electoral process was well-conducted by election commission officials, that polling staff performed admirably in difficult conditions, and that the people of Sierra Leone turned out in high numbers to cast their ballots freely.
2002 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
Sierra Leone held presidential and parliamentary elections in May 2002 following the end of a decade of devastating civil war. The war, which was closely connected to conflicts in neighboring Liberia and Guinea, left approximately 50,000 people dead — 100,000 more mutilated — and 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons. Intervention by the largest U.N. delegation of troops and personnel in the world — about 17,000 in total — was essential in bringing peace to Sierra Leone and maintaining peace during the elections. The Carter Center was the only U.S.-based organization that monitored the elections, which observers found were peaceful and relatively well-managed.
The delegation commended the voters of Sierra Leone, political party agents, and polling station workers for their impressive commitment to peaceful voting under very challenging conditions.