Sierra Leone: Opposition Cries Foul After Election

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He also commended the performance of the NEC. "Overall we find that NEC has been independent and has been impartial," he said.

However, he acknowledged that there were shortcomings in the process, and said that the elections had been conducted on an "uneven playing field". "Unequal access to resources clearly affected the campaign," he said, explaining that APC had enjoyed 61 percent of airtime on the state broadcaster the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, compared to 18 percent for SLPP.

He told reporters that his team had observed at least three cases of vote-buying by the APC, as well as one case of over-voting in Kenema, eastern Sierra Leone. But he clarified that this was an exception, not a trend. "We are asking the hard questions and will report all our findings in an unbiased way," he told IRIN on 17 November.

The election, which pits President Koroma against former junta leader Julius Maada Bio, is seen as a critical test of Sierra Leone's recovery 10 years after the end of the civil-war. President Koroma is widely tipped to win a second term in power, on the back of economic growth and extensive infrastructural improvements over the last five years.

If no candidate wins 55 percent of the vote the country will go to the polls again in a run-off next month.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]

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