The Carter Center has been a force for peace in the war-torn nation of Sierra Leone since 2002, when it observed the first presidential and parliamentary elections since the end of Sierra Leone's devastating civil war. A peaceful transition of power in Sierra Leone offered hope to the rest of conflict-ridden West Africa.
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.
At the invitation of the National Election Commission, The Carter Center observed the elections, deploying eight long-term observers and 40 short-term observers from 18 countries across Sierra Leone's 14 districts. The Center found the process to be 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 election commission officials conducted the process well, 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.
In May 2002, The Carter Center observed the first presidential and parliamentary elections to take place in Sierra Leone following 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 and 100,000 mutilated, and displaced 400,000 others. 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 deployed a delegation of 22 observers led by former Benin President Nicéphore Soglo. The delegation found the elections to be peaceful and relatively well-managed, and commended the voters of Sierra Leone, political party agents, and polling station workers for their commitment to peaceful voting under challenging conditions.
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Size: 71,740 square kilometers
Population: 5,879,098 (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line: 70 percent
Life expectancy: 58 years
Ethnic groups: Temne, Mende, Limba, Kono, Kriole, Mandingo, Loko, other (includes refugees from Liberia's civil war, and small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians)
Religions: Muslim, Christian, indigenous beliefs
Languages: English (official), Mende, Temne, Krio (English-based Creole)
Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2016