Sierra Leone’s presidential election run-off will now hold on March 31, four days later than planned, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday. The court made the ruling after receiving a request for a postponement from the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
The NEC requested the delay after a high court lifted an interim injunction placed on the vote on Monday afternoon, only leaving a few hours for the commission to prepare for the run-off. The run-off will see opposition candidate Julius Bio face’s off against ruling party candidate Samura Kamara, after no candidate reached 55 per cent of the votes needed to win in the first round on March 7.
A Sierra Leone court in Freetown had granted a request of a member of the ruling party for an injunction to delay a presidential election run-off scheduled. The party member, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, filed for the, saying there was evidence of electoral fraud that needed to be investigated before the poll could go ahead. There had been no date set, even as former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan arrived the country for an observer mission. Jonathan, who is leading the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) Election Observation Mission, arrived Freetown on Friday .
Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the spokesman to the former president, said Jonathan also led EISA to the first round of the elections on March 7. EISA had declared the process of the March 7 general elections as peaceful and credible. Opposition leader Julius Maada Bio, of the Sierra Leone People’s Party – briefly a former military junta leader – will be running against Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress, after neither of the two front-runners secured an outright majority in the first round.
President Ernest Bai Koroma is willingly stepping down, is seen as a sign of how far Sierra Leone has come since a 1990s civil war characterised by the mutilation of civilians, the sale of conflict diamonds and the widespread recruitment of children as militia fighters. But tensions over alleged fraud in some districts, and complaints of police harassment against the electoral commission, have marred the process. (Vanguard)