By Amadu Lamrana Bah in Washington
The White House has in a read-out statement said President Bio and five other leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to hold free, fair, and transparent elections conducted by competent, independent, and impartial national electoral bodies, as enshrined in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance.
The elections in Africa in 2023 will be consequential and while the United States does not support any specific candidate or party, they are committed to supporting electoral processes to deepen democracy in Africa, according to the statement.
President Joseph Biden on December 14th, 2022 at the White House before the State Dinner met with President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, President George Manneh Weah of Liberia, President Andry Nirina Rajoelina of Madagascar, and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, to discuss their countries’ upcoming elections in 2023 at this critical time for democracy globally.
President Biden reflected on the recent midterm elections, noting that the strength and resilience of American democracy were reaffirmed in the process, and he reinforced the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to working collectively to renew and defend democracy at home and abroad.
“Although elections themselves do not equal democracy, President Biden underscored that holding elections is fundamental to a functioning democracy,” the statement said.
Together, the leaders discussed the challenges of holding elections and exercising the right to vote, including foreign interference and political violence, and shared best practices on how to manage these risks and ensure transparency and public confidence in the electoral process.
“Participants reaffirmed their commitment to holding free, fair, and transparent elections,” the statement noted.
Meanwhile, the White House has also announced that working with Congress, the United States plans to provide over $165 million to support elections and good governance in Africa in 2023.
“The United States has provided nearly $50 million in support of civil society and the electoral commissions in Nigeria and the DRC,” the statement ended. It is not yet clear how much Sierra Leone will receive as support for its upcoming elections in June 2023 but so far civil society organizations and the media have expressed concern that elections-related support has been slow and most uncertain.
“By this time in 2018, we had the Standing Together for Democracy Consortium with significant support to implement a lot of activities around the elections. But this time round this is not the case,” said Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ).