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.
It is not clear what sparked the rioting in central Freetown last night, but it is alleged that supporters of the newly elected president – Julius Maada Bio, took the law into their own hands when they attacked and destroyed hundreds of makeshift market stalls used by street traders.
Although street trading is illegal in the business district of the capital, enforcement of the law by the police has been weak, leading to very serious vehicle and pedestrian traffic difficulties.
The destruction of the street traders’ market stalls has been condemned by all sides. And tonight, there are calls for those responsible to be brought to justice, and a permanent location found for housing of the street traders.