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Sierra Leone Police Fire Tear Gas at Opposition Party’s Headquarters

Sierra Leone Police Fire Tear Gas at Opposition Partys Headquarters

Authorities claim that on Sunday evening, as citizens awaited the results of a bitterly contested general election, police in Sierra Leone shot tear gas at the offices of the main opposition party.

Opposition Samura Kamara, a presidential contender for the All People’s Congress (APC), claimed on Twitter that live ammunition had also been fired at his office inside the party headquarters in the capital city of Freetown.

APC spokesman Sidie Yahya Tunis told AFP that one woman had passed away in the incident.

She was working in the medical unit downstairs; he continued, “She’s a nurse. We have a tiny health clinic in our office.

A well-known APC candidate for mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, posted images of people seeking refuge on the floor within the structure.

“I am in the APC Party office, and we are under fire,” she tweeted.

 

The Sierra Leone Police issued a statement claiming that APC supporters had paraded through Freetown “announcing to the public that they had won” the polls.

Outside the offices, they attracted “a huge crowd” of supporters who “started harassing passers-by,” according to the police.

It said, “When the situation grew intolerable, the Police had to fire teargas canisters in order to disperse the crowd that was obstructing traffic.

The counting of votes began early on Sunday across the nation, but the results have not yet been made public.

The presidential, legislative, and municipal elections held on Saturday went off mostly without incident.

However, chief election commissioner Mohamed Konneh listed a few districts on Sunday where he said voters had attacked poll workers.

Also on Sunday, President Julius Maada Bio‘s Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) said in a statement that “top-ranking members” of the APC had attacked its poll workers.

Senior opposition party members told AFP on Saturday night that fighting had broken out close to a number of Freetown voting places.

Abdulai Caulker, the director of the Office of National Security, claimed he was unaware of the reported instances during a press conference.

After the APC called for “peaceful” nationwide rallies on Wednesday, fights also broke out outside the party’s headquarters.

According to police, 66 persons were detained on Wednesday throughout Freetown.

The APC has also claimed that when campaigning in rural areas of the nation, its members were attacked.

Election campaigns in Sierra Leone typically involve some element of political violence.

Concerned

The European Union Election Observation Mission stated on Sunday night that it was “concerned about the ongoing tabulation process”.

“It is imperative that the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone provides full transparency during the tabulation of results,” chief observer Evin Incir said in a statement. “Considering the highly polarized political environment and prevailing mistrust.”

The Carter Center, which deployed an observation mission as well, expressed worry about the claims of a lack of openness in several aspects of the tabulation process on Sunday evening.

The election commission, according to Kamara of the APC, is making it “impossible for us and other political parties to compare, reconcile, and verify” tallying, he claimed in a statement earlier on Sunday.

Since the APC has been accusing the electoral commission of favoring the governing party, there has been speculation that it is preparing to dispute the results in court, a strategy that both parties have previously employed.

The requests of the party were deemed “practically impossible” by Konneh of the electoral commission during a press conference due to the size of the tabulation.

On Saturday, several polling places were open late and shut down even later. According to Konneh, voting ended at 11:30 p.m. (2330 GMT).

He remarked that it had been “one of the best election days,” if not the best, in recent memory.

Results should be available 48 hours after the voting.

Key Figures

There were twelve men and one woman competing for president, but Kamara of the APC is the incumbent Bio’s biggest rival. Kamara was narrowly defeated by Bio in a runoff in 2018.

In remarks released on Sunday, the two major parties expressed their confidence in winning.

The election commission reported that approximately 3.4 million persons were registered to vote.

For a first-round victory, presidential contenders must receive 55% of the total valid votes.

Over the last three elections, voter turnout has fluctuated from 76 to 87 percent.

Under a new proportional representation system, voters will also choose representatives to the parliament and local councils.

According to a survey conducted on June 14 by the Institute for Governance Reform, Bio would receive 56% of the vote, while Kamara would receive 43%.

Another survey, done by the publication Sierra Eye and two regional data groups, predicted that the incumbent would receive 38% of the vote while his major rival would receive 25%.

West Africa, a region recently dominated by coups and unrest, is carefully monitoring the elections.

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