A member of the losing political party has filed a legal challenge to Sierra Leone’s presidential election, claiming irregularities and asking for a fresh vote. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden’s petition asks the Supreme Court to nullify the results of the election in which Julius Maada Bio last week was declared the winner. Bio, his Sierra Leone Peoples Party and the national election commission were being served copies of the petition on Wednesday.
Police in Sierra Leone have been engaging in fierce street battles with youths this afternoon in the Eastern District of Kenema, after serious violence broke out between supporters of the APC party and the SLPP. There are reports of serious injuries, though so far, the number of deaths remain uncertain. This wave of political violence comes less than twenty-four hours after the result of the presidential runoff election between the APC and SLPP was last night announced and the winner – the Retired Brigadier and opposition SLPP candidate – Julius Maada Bio, was declared the winner with a three-percentage point lead. Until last night’s orgy of violence by the supporters of both political parties – APC and SLPP, which took place in the central business district of the capital Freetown, Sierra Leone’s 2018 elections had been hailed by international observers as relatively peaceful.
Sierra Leone’s ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) is demanding a vote audit from the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) stronghold before the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announces results of the March 31 presidential runoff. An elections monitoring group, Sierra Leone Decides reported the development citing a letter signed by APC National General Secretary, Osman Foday Yansaneh, and addressed to the NEC Commissioner in the Southern Province. The said province is an SLPP stronghold according to political watchers. Its candidate, Julius Maada Bio was born in the Bonthe District located in the Southern Province.
A former military commander and coup leader who later went to graduate school in the United States and Britain was declared the winner of Sierra Leone’s presidential runoff on Wednesday after a campaign season marred by reports of violence and irregularities. The winner, Julius Maada Bio, was immediately sworn in as the country’s president on Wednesday night. The country’s chief justice, Abdulai Charm, said the inauguration needed to be held quickly to avoid a power vacuum and was in compliance with the country’s Constitution. Candidates from 16 parties ran for president, but in the first round of voting last month, no one won the 55 percent required to avoid a second round.
Voting appeared to be peaceful on Saturday in Sierra Leone’s runoff presidential election, which had been delayed by a few days after a court challenge of the first round.Turnout in the West African nation was lower than in the first round on March 7. Security was tight and many streets were quiet for the holiday weekend. The winner of the runoff will be tasked with helping Sierra Leone continue to rebuild after the devastating 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic as well as a deadly mudslide in August that claimed some 1,000 lives in the capital, Freetown. The runoff vote had been set for Tuesday but was delayed after a ruling party member filed a court challenge alleging irregularities in the first round and a temporary injunction was issued, stalling preparations. The high court lifted the injunction early this week and the election commission asked for a few more days to prepare.
Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court has approved the election commission’s request to delay Tuesday’s runoff presidential vote until the weekend after the lifting of an interim injunction that had stalled preparations. Lawyers for the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said the injunction order had thrown the country’s election into “chaos.” The upcoming vote will see ruling party candidate Samura Kamara face off opposition candidate and leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Julius Maada Bio. Bio won the initial March 7 election by a thin margin, securing 43.4 percent of the vote compared to Kamara’s 42.7 percent. But because neither candidate secured the 55 percent of the votes needed to govern outright, a runoff election was scheduled for March 27.
Recently, a number of technology blogs breathlessly brought news that Sierra Leone “became the first country in the world to use blockchain during an election” on March 7th. “The tech, created by Leonardo Gammar of Agora, anonymously stored votes in an immutable ledger, thereby offering instant access to the election results,” according to TechCrunch. Blockchain ledgers, the theory goes, are more difficult to tamper with than traditional methods for storing vote data. PCMag called the election a “milestone,” showing that “blockchain networks and immutable ledgers can serve as a foundation for new trusted systems, redefining how we interact with an evolving digital world.” To be fair, these items, based on Agora’s own press release, generally noted several paragraphs below their headlines about a “blockchain-based election” that Agora was not verifying the official nationwide count—it had simply been registered as an observer in one district.
Sierra Leone’s High Court on Saturday ordered the electoral commission to halt preparations for a March 27 presidential run-off following a legal filing by a lawyer linked to the ruling party. The order stops the National Electoral Commission (NEC) from working until “the hearing and determination of this court”, adjourning the matter until Monday, the eve of the vote. This would allow time for the commission to submit a question to the Supreme Court, it said, after which the High Court would sit again to reconsider the matter.
Following the presidential elections conducted in Sierra Leone on March 7, it was widely reported in the media that Sierra Leone had become the first country in the world to run blockchain-powered elections. These reports were based on the claims of a Swiss blockchain company, Agora, where it said that the country had utilized blockchain tech to tally and audit the election results. However, it seems that the company’s claims were entirely false. The National Election Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone released an official statement on Twitter on March 18 to set the record straight. The tweet quoted the NEC Chair Mohamed Conteh saying that “the NEC has not used, and is not using blockchain technology in any part of the electoral process.”
Two upstart Sierra Leone political parties said Wednesday they had filed complaints over this month’s elections after failing to make the cut for the second round of the presidential ballot. The National Grand Coalition (NGC) took 6.9 percent of votes in the March 7 elections to the presidency while the Coalition for Change (C4C) garnered 3.5 percent. The results left them far behind the two frontrunners, who go into a deciding round on March 27. The NGC — whose rise last year spurred talk of the emergence of a third party in national politics — is headed by Kandeh Yumkella, a former figure in the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), which topped the poll.
Sierra Leone: Frontrunners head into run-off elections – as coalition government looks likely | The Sierra Leone Telegraph
On Tuesday, 27 March 2018, the people of Sierra Leone will do it all over again. They will be going out to vote in what was announced by the country’s Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mr Mohammed N’fa-Alie Conteh as a run-off election, to decide who will be the next president. After seven long days of nail biting suspense, voters in the country have finally been informed by the Election Commission that following the counting and recounting of ballots across the country – including the nullification of votes in polling stations where evidence of electoral malpractice was found, none of the 15 candidates has won the required 55% to form a government. The run-off is a two-horse race affair between the ruling APC candidate – Dr Samura Kamara who polled 42.7%, and the opposition SLPP candidate – Julius Maada Bio who received slightly better with 43.5%.
The election commission said Tuesday, after the country’s main opposition finished slightly ahead of the ruling party in the first round of voting. Opposition leader Julius Maada Bio, from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), took 43.3 per cent of votes in the March 7 election, while Samura Kamara of the incumbent All Peoples Congress (APC) took 42.7 per cent, the commission said. Turnout appeared to be around 85 per cent of Sierra Leone’s 3.1 million voters.
Sierra Leone: Why you shouldn’t get carried away by Sierra Leone’s blockchain elections | Crypto-Lines
Last week Sierra Leone became the first country in the world to hold blockchain elections. They were supervised by Agora, a blockchain startup based in Switzerland. Once the voting of the region had taken place, over 400, 000 ballots were then manually fed into Agora,s blockchain. The CEO of Agora was very pleased with how smooth the process worked. He exuded excitement for the future of blockchain elections saying: “I strongly believe that this election is the beginning of a much larger blockchain voting movement.”
Rival supporters clashed in Freetown on Saturday after early results from Sierre Leone’s presidential election indicated a runoff would be needed with no candidate set to secure the 55% required to win outright. With incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma standing down after two terms, his All Peoples Congress (APC) candidate Samura Kamara was just leading Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), based on 25% of returns from the National Electoral Commission (NEC). The NEC gave former foreign minister Kamara a near 45% share of the vote so far against 42% for former general Bio in Wednesday’s poll.
Sierra Leone’s two main parties traded verbal blows on Friday (Mar 9), with the opposition accusing the government of planning to announce an unconfirmed victory for its candidate in presidential elections. The West African country held presidential, parliamentary and local council elections on Wednesday, which passed off largely peacefully until an opposition leader’s residence was raided. The National Election Commission (NEC) has asked for patience as it counts the ballots, saying it will prioritise accuracy over speed. It said on Friday it had yet to reach the 25 per cent mark required to release provisional results.
Voting count continued Thursday in Sierra Leone with the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) presidential candidates taking an early lead. The results from the Wednesday landmark vote, as widely predicted, indicated a tight race between APC’s Dr Samura Kamara and Brig (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio of SLPP. The provisional results were released by the Independent Radio Network (IRN), while the National Electoral Commission (NEC) was yet to give any official tally. A total of 16 candidates are vying for the presidency.
Riot police put down skirmishes Wednesday in Sierra Leone’s capital as political tensions mounted after authorities visited the office of the leading opposition candidate. At least one person was treated for stab wounds following the melee that erupted after an SLPP opposition spokesman said police had come to search the party’s offices without a warrant. Their candidate, Julius Maada Bio, the man who was defeated in the 2012 election, later went on live television to criticize the move. “Counting has started and I have phones and laptops which I am using to tally the results of the counting,” he said. “I have established a tallying center in my office which is not against the law of this country. This is a legitimate affair.”
A deadly mudslide. A horrible Ebola virus that killed thousands. And a nation still in recovery from a civil war that killed more than 50,000 people. As Sierra Leoneans go to the polls on Wednesday, they hope to elect a leader who can help them overcome these tragedies. More than a dozen candidates are vying for votes in Wednesday’s election in what officials hope will be a peaceful democratic transition more than five decades since Sierra Leone gained independence. Though recent elections have been peaceful, several episodes of violence have occurred at political rallies this time, at least one death has been reported and several people have been seriously wounded. The Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the European Union have all issued statements calling for a peaceful election, as have many of the candidates.
Sierra Leone will hold elections on Wednesday in which an unprecedented number of political parties will compete as discontent over the government’s handling of an economy battered by the Ebola outbreak has soared. The vote marks a departure from a decades-old tradition that mainly divided the balance of power between the All People’s Congress and the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, with a newcomer, the National Grand Coalition, expected to win a significant amount of votes. In total, 16 parties have put candidates forward in the West African nation of about 6.5 million people.
Sixteen candidates are campaigning to become Sierra Leone’s next president. It’s the first time more than two candidates have real chances of winning and a chance for a more diversified parliament. On Wednesday March 7, Sierra Leone is heading to the polls as the second of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s constitutionally mandated two terms comes to an end. The ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) have always dominated politics since Sierra Leone gained independence from Britain in 1961. But two new political parties upset the political dynamics and support bases of the SLPP and APC when they joined the 2018 presidential race.
Sierra Leone: Electoral commission responds to rumors and voter fraud allegations | Sierra Leone News
American Samoa elects former territorial Senate president Moliga governor in special election | The Republic
European observers are praising Sierra Leone’s elections as peaceful and well-organized, though they expressed concern about post-election unrest. The country’s National Electoral Commission is still tallying up the results from Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary and local elections. The chief of the European Union election observer mission, Richard Howitt, said the voting Saturday had gone smoothly. “We describe this election as being a well-conducted election, it is conducive to democratic consolidation, that has occurred on an unlevel playing field but in a largely peaceful atmosphere,” he said. Howitt said he hopes there will be peaceful acceptance of the results.
After a peaceful day of voting in the presidential, parliamentary and local elections on Saturday, locals crowded around crackling radios releasing unofficial results from individual polling stations. Sporadic cheering erupted in communities across the capital Freetown, a traditional stronghold of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC), as results trickled in. Polling officials counted votes throughout the night, mostly by lantern light, under the watch of observers, party officials, police and soldiers.
The spokesman for Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission says the electoral body has taken new measures to ensure Saturday’s general election is transparent and credible. “The commission is poised to conducting credible elections. In that vein, the commission is undertaking series of activities,” said commission spokesman Albert Massaquoi. “At the moment the commission has recruited over 70,000 staff and training is underway for [the] staff at different levels all over the country.” Massaquoi says the Electoral Commission worked closely with all political parties as well as the police to prevent any violence during the vote.
Sierra Leoneans are going to the polls on Saturday to elect their leaders. Although 10 parties are slugging it out, the contest is between two prominent parties. Like most political contests in Africa, the election is already assuming frightening dimensions with attacks of political opponents, mudslinging, and breeding of fear, as reported by veteran journalist, Lindsay Barret. Reports coming out of Sierra Leone indicate that objective observers of that West African nation’s affairs are increasingly anxious over the course of what may eventually be regarded as the most important and closely fought of four elections held since its civil war ended a little over a decade ago.
Sierra Leone: Election Fever Sweeps Sierra Leone and There Are Some Serious Matters to Debate | Huffington Post OK
In Sierra Leone, politics means a good excuse for a party. There is no space for the stuffiness usually associated with the subject. With one candidate using the slogan ‘When the music’s nice, play it twice’, you know there will be some fun. Over the past fortnight, each party has had its chance to parade through the town, dressed head to toe in their colours chanting slogans of support for their candidate. In one rally, the candidate threw party coloured footballs into the adoring crowd. Everywhere you go, people are talking (and dancing) politics and with just 10 days until the country goes to the polls, the race is too close to call.