oa Africa Insight - Voting for peace and democracy in Sierra Leone Reflections on the May 2002 General Elections

Volume 32, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



The May 2002 general elections represent a significant step forward in Sierra Leone's elusive search for peace and democracy after several years of bad governance and a devastating armed conflict. Though the elections did not result in a change of government, they were generally hailed as free, fair and peaceful. The participation of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in the elections signalled a commitment to both peace and the democratisation process. Moreover, the level of civil society and public involvement in the electoral process coupled with the peaceful nature of the campaign stages further signify a clear trajectory towards stable electoral democracy in Sierra Leone. Nonetheless, the electoral process does reveal signs of inherited practices of neo-patrimonialism, weak political parties and a narrow representation. This raises fundamental questions regarding the relevance of electoral processes to post-conflict democracy.

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