Welcoming the Sierra Leonean Government's promise to hold the elections, as scheduled, on 26 February, the Security Council this afternoon cautioned all groups and individuals in that west African country not to try to disrupt the elections through violence or intimidation.
In a statement read on its behalf by its President, Madeleine Korbel Albright (United States), the Council called on the Government to ensure a safe and free environment for the elections. Reiterating that the holding of free and fair elections on schedule was critically important to Sierra Leone's transition to democratic constitutional rule, it said that any delays or interruptions could erode international donor support and increase the potential for further instability and violence, with devastating consequences for the people of Sierra Leone.
Continuing, the Council urged all parties to end the violence in Sierra Leone, welcomed the initial contacts between the Government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and called upon the RUF to renew its cease- fire and start unconditional dialogue for peace.
Expressing continuing concern about the humanitarian situation and the suffering of the people due to the conflict, the Council called on Member States to continue providing humanitarian aid to address the problem.
It commended the Secretary-General's efforts to help in conducting the elections and, in particular, the establishment of the Joint International Observer Group. It also commended the work of the Secretary-General's Special Representative in supporting the democratic transition and facilitating peace negotiations between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF. The role of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and others, including neighbouring States, in trying to bring peace to that nation, was also appreciated.
The Council meeting, which was called to order at 4:31 p.m., was adjourned at 4:36 p.m.
Text of Presidential Statement
The text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1996/7, reads as follows:
Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6178 3632nd Meeting (PM) 15 February 1996
"The Security Council welcomes the results of the meeting of the National Consultative Conference on 12 February 1996 that overwhelmingly supported the decision to maintain 26 February 1996 as the date of the elections. The Council also welcomes the renewed promise of the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council, to abide by the will of the people expressed through the Conference to hold the elections as scheduled. The Council notes that the Chairman of the Interim National Electoral Commission has confirmed that all the necessary technical arrangements are in place for elections to proceed.
"The Security Council reiterates its belief that the holding of free and fair elections as scheduled is of critical importance to Sierra Leone's transition to democratic constitutional rule. Any delay in the elections or interruption in this process is likely to erode international donor support for Sierra Leone. It is also likely to greatly increase the potential for further instability and violence with devastating consequences for the people of Sierra Leone.
"The Security Council cautions all groups and individuals in Sierra Leone not to attempt to disrupt through violence or intimidation the electoral process which the great majority of the people of Sierra Leone support. The Council calls upon the Government to fulfil its undertaking to ensure a safe and free environment for the elections.
"The Security Council urges all parties to end the violence in Sierra Leone. The Council welcomes the initial contacts between the Government and the Revolutionary United Front and calls upon the Revolutionary United Front to renew its cease-fire and to enter into a full dialogue for peace without any conditions.
"The Security Council expresses its continued concern about the humanitarian situation and suffering of the people resulting from the conflict in Sierra Leone. The Council calls on Member States to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to address this problem.
"The Security Council commends the efforts of the Secretary-General to assist the conduct of the elections, and in particular the establishment of the Joint International Observer Group. It also commends the work of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to support the democratic transition and to facilitate peace negotiations between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front. The Council appreciates the important role of the Organization of African Unity and others, including States neighbouring Sierra Leone, in attempting to bring peace to that country.
"The Security Council request the Secretary-General to continue to monitor the situation in Sierra Leone and to keep the Council informed of all significant developments."
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