Sierra Leone seeks to postpone runoff vote until Saturday

2018-03-27 11:30

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Sierra Leone's election commission applied to delay Tuesday's runoff presidential vote until the weekend after a court on Monday lifted an interim injunction that had stalled preparations.

The commission applied to the Constitutional Supreme Court for more time shortly after the decision by the West African nation's high court. The injunction had been granted on Saturday after a member of the ruling All Peoples Congress party filed a petition citing irregularities in the first round on March 7. The opposition called that move a delay tactic.

The National Election Commission asked that the second round be held on Saturday, according to spokesperson Albert Massaquoi.

Tensions have risen in the nation of 7 million people after neither the ruling party candidate nor the leading opposition candidate won the first round outright. The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, which took 43.3% to the ruling party's 42.7% in the first round, has not held the presidency since 2007.

Opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military leader, on Sunday said his party would not accept a delay in the vote. He also accused President Ernest Bai Koroma and the ruling party of "pushing us to the point of chaos in the country." Koroma has served two terms and is barred by the constitution from running again.

Bio, who is making his second bid for the presidency after losing in 2012, stands to pick up votes from the 14 candidates eliminated in the first round.

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The winner of the runoff will be tasked with helping the country continue to rebuild after the devastating 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic as well as a deadly mudslide in August that claimed some 1 000 lives in the capital, Freetown.

The election is the fourth since Sierra Leone's brutal civil war ended in 2002, and the previous vote in 2012 was largely peaceful.

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

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