Sierra Leone counts votes as both presidential candidates claim victory
Sierra Leone has resumed the tally of presidential election runoff votes, after an agreement was reached between the country’s National Election Commission (NEC) and the two candidates, the NEC said Monday.
The agreement followed a dispute over how the votes were being counted, leading to a delay in the results. They are now expected to be completed by Wednesday.
The agreement to move forward, the NEC said, was negotiated with assistance from election observer John Dramani Mahama, the former president of Ghana, and his counterparts from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“The NEC’s election results process is ongoing and both political parties agree not to undermine or disrupt the results process and to allow it to expeditiously move to its conclusion,” the elections authority said.
Both the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) candidate Julius Maada Bio and All People’s Congress (APC) candidate Samura Kamara have claimed victory in the runoff, which saw much lower turnout than the March 7 contest that ended with Maada Bio at 43.3 percent, holding a slight lead over Kamara with 42.7 percent. Neither candidate received the necessary 55 percent of the vote, forcing the runoff.
The winner will replace outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The runoff vote itself was delayed following charges of electoral fraud, but allowed to proceed following a last-minute High Court ruling. Some opposition party supporters, including Sierra Leoneans who backed National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party candidate Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, stayed home during Saturday’s runoff vote.
Image: NEC Sierra Leone