Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 April 2023:
On Wednesday, President Bio received a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), as concerns grow over rising political tension and pre-election violence. Presidential and general elections are due on 24th June 2023.
Leader of the delegation, Commissioner Ambassador Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah said that “The ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance obligate these two bodies to render necessary assistance to member states on the eve of the organisation of their elections,” he said.
Dr Musah added that the team will also be engaging with political parties, civil society groups, traditional leaders and other stakeholders that are part of the elections processes.
“After our visit, we will put our report together for the attention of the President of the African Union, who will give assistance where needed,” he said.
President Bio welcomed the delegation and told them that he once led a process to democratic rule after 30 years of authoritarian rule, adding that he is also pleased to be leading the country again into another democratic election.
He made reference to what he referred to as his government’s efforts at taking anti-democratic laws and barriers out of the way, including expunging sections of the 1965 Public Order Act that criminalised free speech and abolishing the death penalty, which he said political opponents had feared in the past.
“I have, therefore, broadened democratic space. I also urge the election steering committee, which our international partners are also part of, to discuss the rules and agree on them, way ahead of time. That way, we can go into the elections with a clear mind,” President Bio said.