Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sierra Leone poll battle goes to court

Sierra Leone's ruling party is seeking an injunction against the electoral commission to stop it from publishing further presidential election results.

The party had earlier expressed concern about the commission investigating reports of unusually high voter turnout - mostly in government strongholds.

With three-quarters of votes from last Saturday's run-off counted, opposition leader Ernest Bai Koroma is set to win.

Observers have widely praised the newly-formed commission's conduct.

A lawyer for the governing party, Sierra Leone People's Party, confirmed he had filed an application for a court injunction against the National Electoral Commission.

This appears to be an attempt to prevent the electoral commission from announcing further results at a time when the Vice-President, Solomon Berewa, is trailing the opposition's Mr Koroma by a 20% margin.

Barring an unexpected and surprising last set of results the opposition candidate looks on course to win this election.

Democratic road

But the governing party has in recent days expressed concern over the conduct of the electoral commission which is currently investigating cases of excessively high voter turnout.

Some polling stations recorded more votes than registered voters.

The suspiciously high turnouts were mostly, although not exclusively, from governing party strongholds.

As the race to become Sierra Leone's next leader enters the final strait it looks as though the complaints are far from over.

Prior to a decade-long civil war, Sierra Leone had a series of rigged elections.

The hope is that now, five years after the end of the war, this election will set the country on a far more democratic road.

BBC NEWS | Africa | S Leone poll battle goes to court