Sierra Leone Elections: Opposition Claims Victory

Sierra Leone’s opposition party says its candidate won the country’s presidential election runoff, according to its own tally of the results.

Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) said opposition leader Julius Maada Bio took 54.11 percent of the votes, while Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) won 45.89 percent.

“We are confident that retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is the next president of Sierra Leone,” Jacob Saffa, the SLPP’s election management chairman, told a news conference in the capital, Freetown, on Monday.

Meanwhile, the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) said it “expected” to release the result by Thursday.

“Final results are expected within 72 hours,” Albert Massaquoi, external relations officer at the NEC, said on Monday.

ECOWAS said the presence of security forces at some polling stations intimidated voters and polling officials [Olivia Acland/Reuters]
The NEC said on Monday that there was a brief delay in the vote counting following a disagreement between the parties on the tallying method.

It said counting had resumed, adding that votes from 11,000 polling stations were yet to be counted.

The runoff was delayed for several days due to a complaint of fraud lodged by a member of the APC. A court injunction was lifted a day before the polls were due to take place on March 27, forcing the elections commission to push back the vote.

ECOWAS, the regional bloc, said that overall it was satisfied with the election, but added the presence of security forces at some of the polling stations had intimidated voters and polling officials.

In the first round of voting, Bio was narrowly ahead of Kamara, a close ally of outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma.

A total of 3.1 million people have registered to vote in the poll.

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