Call for calm as Sierra Leoneans await poll outcome

Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) has appealed for patience amidst growing calls for the speedy announcement of the results of Wednesday’s presidential election.

NEC was yet to release any official tally, but provisional results from the Independent Radio Network (IRN) showed that Dr Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) were well ahead of the pack.

A total of 16 candidates are vying for the presidency, which would go into a run-off if no candidate garners 55 per cent vote to win outright.

The 3.7 million registered voters were also choosing members of parliament and local council officials.

NEC chairman Mohamed N’Fa Allie Conteh said they wanted to make sure that every vote was counted, hence their due diligence in the tallying.

Mr Conteh told journalists at a press conference in Freetown that tallying was in progress in the five regional centres. He noted that counting and transmission of results had taken longer due to the distance and terrain linking some polling stations to the tallying centres.

According to the commission chief, results only started arriving at these centres at 2pm on Thursday.

“We are now at full speed in the tallying centres were counting is under way,” Mr Conteh said, noting that the results would be announced in three batches of 25 per cent, 50 per cent and 100 per cent of the total votes cast.

Figures released by APC put its candidate ahead of Brig Bio, whose party accused the former of presenting “fake” results as a ploy to steal its "imminent" victory.

Two other political parties, the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and C4C, also issued a joint statement raising “grave concern” that the results emerging from NEC might not reflect the will of the people.

The parties which lie third and fourth, respectively, according to the IRN figures, say their own internal checks revealed that the electoral process did not reflect anything close to free, fair, transparent and credible polls.

They cited intimidation of party agents and discrepancy in the result reconciliation as undermining the credibility of the polls.

On Thursday, the Ecowas Observer Mission, headed by former interim president of Liberia Amos Sawyer, urged the political leaders to tone down and follow the due process in case of any disagreement.

The Ecowas mission report generally hailed the process as free, fair and credible, despite a few concerns that include the negative effects of the controversial police vehicular ban.

The election was set to place Sierra Leone to a new level in it's democratisation journey.

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