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Sierra Leoneans vote for a new president

31 March 2018

Sierra Leoneans are today electing a new president in a run-off between Dr Samura Kamara of the All Peoples Congress (APC) and Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

Commonwealth observers led by John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana, are among local and international groups observing these elections. He said: “These elections are important for the continuing consolidation of Sierra Leone’s democracy and serve to test the processes, the people and the democratic institutions in Sierra Leone.”

"We encourage the citizens of Sierra Leone to continue to express their will in a peaceful, orderly and constructive manner,” he said. “Sierra Leoneans can continue to show the world that they have the capacity, the will and commitment to hold credible and peaceful elections.”

Commonwealth observers have been deployed in four of the five provinces since March 25 to observe the voting, counting and results tallying process.

According to Sierra Leone’s constitution, in order to be duly elected, a presidential candidate requires 55 per cent of valid votes cast. In the absence of the required majority, the two leading candidates go forward to a second round of voting no later than 14 days from the official declaration of results. No thresholds exist in the second round so whichever candidate gets the majority of votes cast is declared the winner.

The elections being contested by the candidates of the two political parties that emerged ahead in the first round was originally scheduled and announced for 27 March 2018.

However, an interim injunction preventing the conduct of the election was issued by the High Court. Although the Injunction was subsequently lifted, orders guiding the conduct of elections were provided by the High Court.

The National Electoral Commission however issued a statement indicating that due to the delay it was no longer able to deliver the election on 27 March and proposed a new date. The Supreme Court affirmed the new date of 31 March 2018 as provided by the National Electoral Commission.

Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group Mahama added: “Today, as Sierra Leoneans actively and constructively participate in enhancing their democracy, it is the Commonwealth’s hope and expectation that the spirit of patience and peace, which has characterised the voting process prevails.

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