16 November 2012

Sierra Leone 2012 - Tensed Atmosphere Ahead of Tomorrow Polls

Voters in Sierra Leone will go to the polls tomorrow in an election widely seen as a test of the country's hard-won peace. The massive rallies and political Campaign came to an end yesterday, Thursday Nov 15 at exactly 6pm with opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) being the last to campaign in the western area.

Supporters of the two main parties have had skirmishes during political rallies sparking fears of violence in some areas like Kono, Bo, Pojuon Fourabay Community, but the security forces managed the situation.

Al Shek Kamara,Director of operations, Sierra Leone Police,in an interview with AEP confirmed the Police is working hand in hand with the Armed Formed and has everything under control adding that with the deployment of security forces across the country, security and peaceful atmosphere is rest assured before, during and after the polls.

Greg Houel, Field Director for the Carter Center, says the campaigns, while venomous, have remained generally peaceful with isolated incidents of violence, further stating that "You can feel the tension increasing as the elections draw near," adding that this year's campaign is still an improvement over previous elections.

According to Jonathan Bhalla of the London-based Africa Research Institute, mistrust between the parties, and the winner-takes-all nature of elections in the country has raised tensions in the west African nation."Voting patterns are very much along regional ethnic lines," Bio's SLPP is typically supported by the Mende ,one of the country's main tribes and other southern tribes While Koroma's APC is favoured by the other major tribe Temne and others in the north and west.

Analysts predict a tight race between former junta leader Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and President Koroma of the ruling All People's Congress(APC). Julius Bio has amassed significant support and is likely to force Koroma into a run-off vote while the eight other parties on the ballot are not expected to garner many votes.

This election will be the first to be conducted entirely by the Sierra Leone government using the biometric voter with about 2.6 million registered voters, and also marks the first time presidential, parliamentary and local elections are held together.

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