Sierra Leoneans head to polls to pick next president

Cheryl Sanders
March 8, 2018

Chief of the European Union Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, Jean Lambert, on Wednesday described the voting as peaceful.

We have adequate police officers who are enough.

"When an APC rally through the city centre is marked by supporters waving large Chinese flags, not many questions need to be asked", said Catherine Bolten, a professor of anthropology at Notre Dame University.

"The IEOMs present in Sierra Leone would like to take the opportunity to wish the citizens of Sierra Leone well in the exercise of their democratic rights; and pledge our unequivocal commitment to support the people of Sierra Leone to ensure a peaceful and credible conclusion of the electoral process.", the statement concluded.

SLPP spokesman Lahai Lawrence Leema said it was an "act of intimidation" aimed at "rigging elections".

The elections however, will have other candidates from other parties apart from the two major political parties.

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The economy is in a dire state following the 2014-16 Ebola crisis and a commodity price slump that drove away foreign investors, and living conditions are among the poorest in the world.

Other plaintiffs led by presidential candidate Charles Francis Margai, are now challenging the ruling party candidate and maintaining he is ineligible for holding dual British-Sierra Leonean nationality.

The APC faces competition from the SLPP but also from the upstart National Grand Coalition (NGC), headed by former United Nations diplomat Kandeh Yumkella.

President Weah urged the people of Sierra Leone to emulate the good example of Liberia, who after almost 14 years of civil war realized peace is the true path to development. According to the NEC, voting ends at 5pm.

Arthur Taillu, a retired teacher, said it could prove hard to dislodge the APC government.


The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR), a Freetown-based think tank, released a report saying there was a "growing willingness on the part of the electorate to consider policy proposals over ethnic considerations in voter choice".

The current government is accused of misusing funds meant to rebuild the country's health system after Ebola, and of failing to address the fallout from a mudslide in August that killed hundreds.

Meanwhile, outgoing president Koroma's increasing reliance on China for infrastructure, including a new airport and adjoining toll road, have raised concerns that Beijing is seeking to keep the APC in power.

The missions are ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission (ECONEC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth.

Voter freebies and funding for campaign materials could "potentially influence the voting public" in the APC's favour, it added.


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