Monday, September 10, 2007

Sierra Leoneans await election results

Voters in Sierra Leone are waiting for the results of Saturday's presidential run-off, which passed off peacefully despite clashes during the campaign.

Sierra Leone man listening to radioHowever, both parties have reported irregularities, such as their agents being barred from polling stations.

Vice-President Solomon Berewa faced opposition candidate Ernest Koroma in the first election since UN peacekeepers pulled out.

Final official results are not due for several days.

Foreign election observers have praised the absence of violence during voting.

Ballot stuffing

Abdul Fatau Musah, an observer from the regional body, Ecowas, said he could not confirm reports that election agents from Mr Koroma's All People's Congress (APC) were prevented from entering polling stations in the south-eastern Kailahun district.

"We have no conclusive evidence of this but there are strong allegations," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"We will reject the results from Kailahun, Kenema and Pujehun because we believe the process should have been open to all and our agents could not enter parts of those districts," said APC spokesman Alpha Kanu, according to the AFP news agency.

The ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) said its agents had been harassed in parts of the north.

"We have reports that 40 to 50 of our polling agents were harassed, intimidated and taken out of polling stations," SLPP National Chairman Alhaji Jah said, according to Reuters news agency.

Local monitoring body National Election Watch (NEW) reported some cases of ballot-stuffing, among other incidents.

Sierra Leone is recovering from a brutal civil war, which officially ended in 2002.

The BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross says that whoever wins, the new president will have the task of uniting a country which has, to a certain extent, been divided by this whole closely fought election.

BBC NEWS | Africa | S Leoneans await election results