“The Peacebuilding Commission emphasizes that the primary responsibility for the conduct of fair, free, credible and transparent elections rests with the people of Sierra Leone, their government, electoral management bodies, and political parties,” said a statement by the Commission’s Sierra Leone section – known formally as the Sierra Leone Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission.It also noted that the international community views the Saturday elections as a “significant milestone in the country’s peace consolidation efforts,” adding that global onlookers have “high expectations that they will be conducted in a peaceful, transparent, and credible manner, thereby serving as an example for the region and beyond.”Sierra Leone is scheduled to hold four elections – presidential, parliamentary, local council and mayoral – in what is viewed as an important step for a country that is rebuilding after a civil war that ended in 2002.Sierra Leone is one of the six countries on the agenda of the overall Peacebuilding Commission, itself an intergovernmental advisory body that supports peace efforts in countries emerging from conflict, and considered to be a key addition to the ability of the international community in the broad peace agenda.While the Commission’s ‘central’ body, called the Organizational Committee, comprises 31 member countries, each of the country-specific Configurations include other participants, such as neighbouring countries, regional organizations, multilateral organizations, financial institutions and representatives of civil society.On Sierra Leone, the Configuration’s statement said the Commission “strongly believes that the political parties have a serious responsibility to safeguard the progress made since the end of the civil war, and to contribute their part to the successful conduct of the forthcoming elections.”It added that it welcomed the signing by various registered political parties, national institutions and other national stakeholders of the 18 May 2012 Declaration, which the Configuration said “outlines clear principles for political competition (and) encourages the political parties to fully respect those principles.” The Configuration highlighted the “relatively calm” election campaign to date, as it also commended the “important role” non-State organizations were playing in “ensuring fair and transparent elections, free of violence.”It said all “national stakeholders” – but especially the country’s political parties – should “continue making use of existing mechanisms for dialogue and dispute resolution” so that political differences can be resolved, and violence can be averted.“In that respect, the role of the Electoral Offences Court will be vital for resolution of electoral related complaints and timely acceptance of the results,” the statement said.The Configuration said that an “increasingly pivotal role” in the coming weeks would be played by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), which Sierra Leone created in 2002 to register political parties and to ensure that their conduct conforms to the country’s Constitution.The Configuration added that the PPRC had “already demonstrated its ability to promote inter-party dialogue, manage political tensions, and ensure adherence to the political party code (of) conduct,” as it called on all political parties to “continue their cooperation” with the body.The Configuration also praised Sierra Leone’s biometric voter registration process, saying it had “helped to enhance the transparency and credibility of the elections.” According to the Configuration, use of biometric technology will “greatly facilitate the conduct of future elections.”“The National Electoral Commission and its international partners should be commended for their outstanding work in this respect and should continue to ensure that voters and political parties are kept well informed of the ongoing electoral process,” the Configuration said.Established in 2006, the Peacebuilding Commission plays a key role in bringing together donors, troop contributing countries and other relevant actors. It also marshals resources and helps launch integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery.
The development, which is likely linked to the ongoing outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), comes ahead of a key meeting on Friday at the World Health Organization (WHO), to decide whether to announce an international public health emergency.“The second of three persons who were confirmed Ebola positive has passed away,” said WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic in Geneva. “Obviously, it is very important that the Ministry of Health together with the WHO go quickly to this area where the cases have been identified to make sure that all those who may have been in contact with these people have been monitored.”According to the Ugandan authorities, which confirmed the outbreak on Tuesday, the victims are a five-year-old boy from Uganda and his 50-year-old grandmother.Symptoms of #Ebola can be sudden and include:-Fever-Fatigue-Muscle pain-Headache-Sore throatThese can be followed by:-Vomiting-Diarrhoea-Rash-In some cases, both internal and external bleeding➡️ https://t.co/l1kiq5m2qh pic.twitter.com/mAjBx77W33— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) June 13, 2019 The youngster fell ill after visiting DRC’s Mabalako Health Zone to attend the burial of his grandfather, a confirmed Ebola-sufferer, who died in the community on 1 June.The boy and his family then returned to Uganda through the Bwera border on Monday, where relatives sought help at Kagando hospital for symptoms including vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness and he was transferred to an Ebola treatment centre (ETC) at Bwera, Kasese.He died on Tuesday evening before being given a dignified burial, according to the Ugandan authorities, which noted that in addition to the boy’s grandmother who succumbed to Ebola virus, his three-year-brother has also tested positive for the disease. A fourth suspect case – a 23-year-old man from Mukungu village in Katwe – is also awaiting lab confirmation and some 27 contacts of the victims have been identified so far, the health ministry statement added.Response plan measures include ban on public gatherings The Ugandan authorities also said that the Minister of Health, WHO’s Country Representative and other partners had met at Bwera Hospital on Wednesday to discuss an action plan.Initial measures to prevent the transmission of Ebola include a ban on mass gatherings such as markets, the vaccination of contacts and health workers, and a public information radio campaign to allay concerns and rumours about the outbreak.Alongside WHO, UN Children’s Fund UNICEF announced that it had launched an emergency Ebola response plan in Uganda, in response to the latest developments.The move follows months of preparedness and prevention efforts as Ebola cases have continued increase in DRC, where there have been more than 2,000 infections and nearly 1,400 deaths in the country’s worst recorded outbreak after it began last August.“As our thoughts are with this young boy’s family, this is a tragic reminder that even one case of Ebola is one too many,” said UNICEF Representative in Uganda, Dr. Doreen Mulenga. “We must do everything possible to stop this outbreak in its tracks and prevent other needless deaths.” In recent months, UNICEF has supported the Government of Uganda implement extensive programmes to make sure communities in numerous districts in western Uganda bordering the DRC are prepared for a potential outbreak.Seeking professional medical help quickly ‘a priority’, says UNICEFWith the aim of empowering communities in numerous districts in western Uganda bordering the DRC against a potential Ebola outbreak, UNICEF has already made nearly 350,000 household visits to share information about the disease and the importance of seeking help quickly.More than 14,000 public meetings have also been held at schools, churches, mosques, markets, bus stops and funeral gatherings to discuss Ebola prevention, reaching around 2.4 million people.Other measures include building capacity for infection prevention and control in health facilities through water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, and training nearly 1,500 Uganda Red Cross volunteers and para-social workers to support communities dealing with Ebola-related stress.“Awareness is the best way to prevent the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Mulenga. “Strategically communicating the correct knowledge and best practices to affected communities is critical to doing so.”