Sierra Leone parties spar as vote count continues

2018-03-10 07:42
  A woman casts her ballot as part of the general elections at a polling station in Freetown. More than 3.1 million voters are registered for the polls across the small West African nation. (File, AFP)

A woman casts her ballot as part of the general elections at a polling station in Freetown. More than 3.1 million voters are registered for the polls across the small West African nation. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Freetown - Sierra Leone's two main parties traded verbal blows on Friday, with the opposition accusing the government of planning to announce an unconfirmed victory for its candidate in presidential elections.

The West African country held presidential, parliamentary and local council elections on Wednesday, which passed off largely peacefully until an opposition leader's residence was raided.

The National Election Commission (NEC) has asked for patience as it counts the ballots, saying it will prioritise accuracy over speed.

It said on Friday it had yet to reach the 25% mark required to release provisional results.

However, the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) said in a statement it had a "comfortable lead" over its rivals, causing the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) to accuse them of "endangering public order and national security."

The SLPP claimed the APC was preparing to release "fake presidential results", adding that it remained "confident of a clear victory".

It comes after the opposition party's leader Julius Maada Bio's residence was raided by police on a bizarre "hacking" accusation despite Sierra Leone using a manual voting system.

 'Transparent, credible' 

Partial results are expected in the next few days but must be verified by the National Election Commission (NEC).

European Union (EU) observers meanwhile described the election as "transparent, credible and well-organised" in a statement on Friday.

However, they said police reaction during the Bio raid was "disproportionate", and called on the officers to exercise their duties in an "impartial, proportionate manner".

The EU added that an "increasing number of acts of intimidation and violence against candidates and activists affected the electoral process."

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news from around the continent by subscribing to our FREE newsletter, Hello Africa.

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook. 

The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI), a Freetown-based organisation, went further and called police behaviour "unprofessional".

"They were seen brutally beating up protesters unnecessarily," the group said.

Clashes between rival supporters in Freetown also led to arrests on Wednesday.

The APC and SLPP have dominated Sierra Leone's politics since independence in 1961, but third parties are hoping to make their mark after mounting charismatic campaigns based on the two parties' shortcomings.

The National Grand Coalition (NGC), whose message of reform has struck a chord with educated urban voters, elsewhere said it had identified "a number of serious irregularities in the voting process which will in some areas require immediate recounts".

It would complain to the NEC, it added.

Sierra Leone's export-dependent economy of the mineral-rich but impoverished country is in a dire state following the 2014-16 Ebola crisis and a commodity price slump that has driven away foreign investors.

A presidential runoff is likely, according to experts, as the threshold to win outright in the first round is 55 percent.

Read more on:    sierra leone  |  west africa  |  sierra leone 2018 elections

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.