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 spokesman for the current president from the ruling APC party denied that authorities were trying to foment unrest.
“The police and the rule of law stay in place,” Abdulai Bayratay later said on the same network. “The APC is not trying to compromise the peace of this country.”
Wednesday’s vote is the fourth since Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war ended in 2002, and the last election in 2012 was largely peaceful.