Otunnu to Monitor Sierra Leone Polls

Uganda People’s Congress President, Olara Otunnu

Uganda People’s Congress President, Olara Otunnu has been appointed leader of the Commonwealth Observer Group for Sierra Leone elections. The National and Local Government elections will be held on 17 November this year.

Olara Otunnu will lead the Commonwealth Observer Group, which will be made up of nine observers, supported by five Commonwealth Secretariat staff.

Mr Otunnu who is the former United Nations under secretary general and special representative for Children and Armed Conflict will arrive in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, on 11 November to prepare for the work.

According to the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, the Observer Group was invited by the Government of Sierra Leone.

“The Commonwealth has a long history of engagement in Sierra Leone, and our presence on the ground confirms our commitment to strengthening democracy in the country,” Mr. Sharma noted

These elections will be Sierra Leone’s third since its decade-long conflict ended in 2002. The Commonwealth also observed elections in the country in 2002 and 2007.

According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, the group will “observe and consider all aspects of the election process and assess compliance with the standards for democratic elections to which Sierra Leone has committed.”

At the end of its two weeks stay, the group might make recommendations about strengthening democracy in Sierra Leone in its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General.

The report will also be shared with the Sierra Leone government, its national electoral commission, political parties and all commonwealth member states.

The Observer group is expected to be impartial and adhere to the international declaration of principles of election observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.



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