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Monday, September 25, 2023

President Maada Bio on course for victory in Sierra Leone


Sierra Leone’s president Julius Maada Bio looked on course for re-election yesterday after the electoral commission said he had a clear lead with 60 percent of the votes counted, a process which is being contested by the opposition.

Bio had garnered 55.86 percent of ballots cast, more than the 55 percent required for victory after Saturday’s first round of voting.

The incumbent’s 1,067,666 votes put him well ahead of his main rival Samura Kamara, who had 793,751 votes or 41.53 percent, the commission said.

Final results were expected within 48 hours, said election commission chief Mohamed Kenewui Konneh.

The party pointed to the lack of information about which polling stations or districts the ballots were coming from.

“We totally reject the chief Electoral Commissioner’s announcement of such cooked-up figures,” Kamara’s APC said.

During a Monday evening press conference, European Union observers said they felt a lack of transparency and communication by the electoral authority had led to mistrust in the electoral process.

They said they received reports of violent incidents in six regions and witnessed violence first-hand at seven polling stations during voting hours and at three others during the closing and counting stages.

Some 3.4 million people were registered to vote in Saturday’s election.

Twelve men and one woman stood for president, but Bio’s main challenger was Kamara of the APC.

Bio, of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), narrowly beat Kamara in a runoff in 2018.

The president, 59, a former coup leader in the 1990s, has championed education and women’s rights in his first civilian term.

Kamara, 72, a former foreign and finance minister, is facing a protracted trial over allegations that he misappropriated public funds as foreign minister, a case he says is politically motivated.

� Agence France-Presse

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