Concord Times (Freetown)

Sierra Leone: Ex-Zambia President Warns Koroma, Bio - 'Accept Results & Avoid Chaos'

Former Zambia president Rupiah Banda has urged Sierra Leone's two main presidential challengers - Ernest Bai Koroma and Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio - to accept the outcome of Saturday's November 17 polls to avoid chaos in the country.

The Ex-Zambia leader, who citied himself as a good example for leaders in Africa, said as an incumbent he succeeded in avoiding bloodshed after losing the September 2011 polls to the opposition candidate, Michael Sata.

"I am a good example to leaders in Africa. As incumbent I did run the elections but accepted the result after the polls to avoid blood shedding and allow peace to prevail," Mr. Banda told journalists yesterday.

"Bio and Koroma are Sierra Leoneans so they must accept the results for the interest of peace and the people of Sierra Leone, more especially because your country has suffered from a 10-year conflict," noted Mr. Banda.

The former Zambia president, who is leader of a delegation from the US-based Carter Center Election Observation Mission to Sierra Leone, confessed that before his arrival in Freetown, he had a negative perception of the country but after Saturday's polls his perception changed, adding that he was also impressed with the turnout of Sierra Leoneans in exercising their franchise.

According to him, the Carter Center Mission is pleased with the running of Saturday's polling and that the process was conducted in high degree of transparency and was largely peaceful.

However, he said despite the turnout exceeding 75 percent of the people that registered for the elections, they were not impressed with the low turnout of women both as voters and as polling staff, party agents or observers.

"Our observers noted that fewer women were represented among the political party agents at polling stations visited. High registration fees, intimidation and legacy of electoral violence all contributed to fewer women standing for parliament," he observed.

In recommendation, the Carter Center Mission strongly encouraged that the women's bill must be revisited, strengthened and reintroduced for consideration by Sierra Leone's next parliament.

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