Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sierra Leone Elections: APC maintains lead

With provisional results coming so far from the Nation al Electoral Commission (NEC), as at yesterday, August 14th, 2007, it is very likely that there will be no run-off in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

The results put the opposition All People Congress (APC) party ahead with 204,770 votes, followed in second place by the ruling Sierra Leone People Party (SLPP) with 106,887 votes. The results represent forty percent of the votes cast on polling day.The National Electoral Commission (NEC) is however still counting and tallying votes.

Earlier, Dr. Christiana Thorpe, in her statement, stated that the results announced by NEC did not represent all the districts as only the results from some of the stations have gone through processing in the Bombali District.

The results for 65 stations announced last Monday, August 13th, 2007, are as follows: Koroma (APC) polled 18,563, Turay (CPP) polled 292, Jalloh (NDA) polled 110, Conteh (PLP) polled 37, Margai (PMDC) polled 201, Berewa (SLPP) polled 1,415 and Karim (UNPP) polled 37. In the Port Loko District, results for 74 stations were announced but results for 454 stations were still to be announced.

The results were as follows for the 74 stations in Port Loko District representing 22,611 votes: Koroma (APC) polled 17,621, Turay (CPP) 550, Jalloh (NDA) 232, Conteh (PLP) 99, Margai (PMDC) 295, Berewa (SLPP) 2,095 and Karim (UNPP) 112.

Meanwhile, results announced by the Independent Radio Network (IRN), though not official show that the opposition won all 21 seats in the Western Area and made significant impact in the eastern and some parts of the Southern Province as well as its strongholds in the north. This has been hotly contested by the ruling SLPP who say it’s too early for the APC to jubilate.They(SLPP) claim to have won some seats in the Western Area.

Political newcomers, the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) caused a major upset for the ruling party in its strongholds, thus paving the way for the APC to have a comfortable lead in the results which will eventually rule out any possibility for a run-off.

Briefing the press last Tuesday at the British Council conference hall in Freetown, the NEC Chairperson Dr. Christiana Thorpe acknowledged that the voting process last Saturday has been widely acclaimed by national and international observers. This, she said, can be largely credited to the desire of Sierra Leoneans to participate in free and fair elections.However, the process itself had been plagued with irregualrities.

The credibility of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) was last Monday put at stake when hundreds of voting materials were displayed before a press conference conveyed by the commission.

Citizen Radio FM 103.7 reporter Ansumana Kumba Kanu, displayed the voting materials in the presence of journalists and both international and local observers.

The materials were brought to the radio station’s Kissy Mess Mess office by irate youths after they discovered them being secretly kept in the offices of the Principal of the Muslim Congress Secondary School, Kissy Mess Mess. He is said to be an executive member of the ruling party.

All the materials were marked in favour of the SLPP Presidential candidate Solomon Berewa. The youths, not comfortable with the police and the NEC officials present at the school where voting was taking place, decided to take the materials to the radio station. They believe the station is the safest place where the materials could be brought especially against the background of the fact that the Citizen Radio Station, had been doing live coverage of events in the eastern part of the city.

The reporter had earlier informed NEC at a press conference held the previous day but was challenged to substantiate his claims with documentary evidence. His display of the materials at a press conference therefore took everybody by storm. The school’s principal since election day had been in hiding.

In a related development, the School Principal of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Secondary School, Abdul Karim Sesay, is also in hiding after irate youths went on the rampage following the discovery of boxes loaded with voting materials in a classroom at his school’s compound.

The incident caused a major uproar between civilian voters and the police who were called upon to maintain order.

Sierra Leone Elections: APC maintains lead