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EU to send observers to Sierra Leone elections
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07:57, July 12, 2007

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The European Union will send observers to monitor the presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone due on Aug. 11 this year, the European Commission (EC) announced Wednesday.

In a statement, the EC said the EU will deploy an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the polls in the West African nation.

The EOM includes a core team of seven officers, 28 long-term observers (LTOs), who will be deployed during this month to assess the campaign period and pre-election preparations around the country, and 42 short-term observers (STOs), to be deployed over the election-day period to observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results.

The EOM, to be led by European Parliament member Marie Anne Isler Beguin, will remain in the country in case of a presidential run-off, and will continue its operations for a number of weeks after the elections to assess the post-election period.

EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner described the upcoming elections as crucial for sustaining peace and promoting democracy in Sierra Leone.

"In line with the U.N. Peace Building Commission, for which Sierra Leone is a priority country in its efforts to build sustainable peace in Africa, I believe that the country deserves every support contributing to genuine elections," she said.

Sierra Leone is still recovering from a decade of civil war, which ended in 2002 with the emergence of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, whose government has been focusing on reconstruction and social healing.

The European Commission is one of Sierra Leone's most important development cooperation partners and is providing funds to assist the country in implementing its development and socio-economic reform agenda.

The Commission has provided 7.5 million euros (some 10.2 million U.S. dollars) in aid to support the organization of Sierra Leone's elections.

Campaigning for Sierra Leone's parliamentary and presidential elections began on Tuesday. President Kabbah, who is stepping down after serving for the maximum two terms, has called for violence-free elections.

Seven parties have registered for the elections, during which voters will also be asked to vote in a referendum on revising the nation's constitution.

Source: Xinhua

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