Sierra Leone Presidential Run-Off in Jeopardy Over Court Ruling

Photo: Le Pays
(File photo).

The fate of the Sierra Leonean presidential run-off remained in the balance Sunday, following an interim injunction by court.

A Freetown High Court on Saturday cast doubt over the conduct of the much-anticipated poll slated for Tuesday, and which has already generated tremendous tension in the West African country.

The case was filed by a member of the governing All People's Congress (APC) party who is contesting the preparedness of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.

The plaintiff, a Freetown-based lawyer, asked the court to halt the poll until several demands he has put forward were met by NEC.

The demands include the conduct of an audit on the commission and its personnel.

They were the same demands forwarded by the APC following the announcement of the first round results.

But APC has denied that it was behind the case, which has been criticised by a section of the civil society, with some opposition activists saying it was the latest attempt by outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma to extend his stay in office.

Others fear that it was an effort by APC to manipulate the country's institutions to ensure an unfair victory in the elections.

Sierra Leoneans will be voting to choose between the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) candidate, Brig (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, and the APC's Samura Kamara.

Brig Bio led in the first round with 43 per cent against Dr Kamara's 42 per cent.

Final judgement

A total of 16 candidates were on the running for the top job.

The electoral laws require a candidate to secure at least 55 per cent of the votes to be declared winner in the first round.

The High Court is expected to make a final judgement on the next adjournment on Monday, a day before the election.

The run up to the elections has already been marred by reports of violence across the country, amidst accusations and counter-accusations from both parties of plots to rig the polls.

Pro-democracy and other interest groups fear postponement could also prolong the wait and need to manage the risk of violence.

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