Sierra Leone preps for November vote

Sept. 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Sierra Leone has an opportunity to demonstrate political maturity as it prepares for broad-based elections in November, the U.N. Security Council was told.

Sierra Leone is to have presidential, parliamentary and local council elections Nov. 17.

Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, U.N. special envoy for Sierra Leone, told the Security Council the country has the chance to display its political leadership if elections are conducted successfully.

An estimated 50,000 people were killed in the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced by a U.N. special court in May to prison for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity committed by rebel forces in the country during civil war in the 1990s.

The Security Council was told that major political parties in May signed a declaration committing to free and peaceful elections. So far, the agreement has been honored but rivalries could escalate as the election draws near.

The International Crisis Group said Liberians told their researchers following the Taylor sentencing that they felt "uneasy, even unsafe" knowing war crimes suspects were still on the loose.

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