Jean Lambert, head of European Union’s Election Observation Mission

FREETOWN–– On Friday, the head of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission said that the presidential and general elections held two days ago in Sierra Leone were authentic and conducted with transparency, despite the intimidation and violence that affected the overall campaign.

Speaking at a press conference held in Freetown to present the mission’s preliminary conclusions, Jean Lambert praised the process as ‘encouraging’.

Lambert, an English member of the European Parliament, called on all parties and candidates to demand that their supporters refrain from acts of violence and intimidation against candidates and activists and to publicly commit to accepting the credible election results by the country’s National Election Commission (NEC).

The EU’s official said the EU mission found the elections to be transparent, credible and well-organized, adding that they sensed in the voters the will to support democracy in the country.

The mission based its judgment on reports from more than 100 EU observers who visited more than 400 polling stations during the elections.

The EU mission is expected to publish its final report on the elections in the two months following the announcement of the final election results.

The EU’s report will indicates whether the voting process was good or very good in more than 95 percent of the stations.

Political watchers say the presidential and general election were historic for Sierra Leone, as they were the first to be held after the 2014 Ebola epidemic and the conclusion of the United Nations peace operations in a country that had struggled to recover from years of a brutal civil conflict.

On Thursday, the country’s National Electoral Commission said that it was still waiting for the preliminary results, which will be released after counting had reached about 25 percent of the ballots.