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Sierra Leone

Election observers cry foul as Maada Bio starts second term

Tough questions on governance and stability follow disputed election results amid deepening economic woes

Deadly attacks on the main opposition party, arrests of opposition supporters, and claims of 'statistical inconsistencies' in the voter tabulation overshadowed the presidential elections on 25 June which saw President Julius Maada Bio sworn in on 27 June for a second term.

Maada Bio, of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), was sworn in after the electoral commission announced that he had taken 56.17% of the vote in the first round of voting. That pushed him just over the 55% he needed to avoid a run-off, but a far more decisive win than when he took office in 2018 (AC Vol 59 No 9, Narrow win constrains Bio). 

The official results gave All People's Congress leader Samura Kamara 41% of the vote. Kamara has rejected the outcome, saying the results were not credible and that his election agents had been unable to verify the vote tallies.

After polls closed on 25 June. Kamara reported on Twitter that he had been 'barricaded in my APC party headquarters during my live press conference. Live bullets and teargas fired at my offices by government forces.'

An APC volunteer was killed after police officers and members of the presidential guard surrounded the party's headquarters in Freetown, while APC officials reported that many of their officials and volunteers had been arrested in raids across the country.

The European Union's Election Observation Mission said there were 'statistical inconsistencies', urging the commission to promptly publish disaggregated results data from each polling station to allow for public scrutiny of the results, without which it said transparency was compromised.

Similar concerns were aired by observers from the United States-based Carter Center. 

Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, has said the data will be uploaded but without giving a timetable. Kamara had called for the resignation of the electoral commission ahead of the vote, adding that he had no confidence that the polls would be free and fair.

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