All eyes on Sierra Leone ahead of vote

Nov. 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. and British governments called on the people of Sierra Leone to conduct weekend elections in a fair and peaceful manner.

Voters in Sierra Leone head to polling stations Saturday for the third series of presidential and parliamentary elections since the civil war ended there in 2002.

"We call upon all Sierra Leoneans to participate actively in the process, to abide by the rule of law, to respect human rights, and to respect the eventual results," a statement issued by the U.S. and British governments read.

Major political parties in May signed a declaration committing to free and peaceful elections. Candidates, the statement read, are called on to respect democratic processes there and avoid violence in the run up to the Saturday election.

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.

Last month, Sierra Leone Foreign Minister Joseph Dauda told a U.N. peace-building commission the government was "firmly committed" to a sweeping election that was free, transparent and fair.

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