As Koroma wins re-election in Sierra Leone, the opposition SLPP is yet to accept defeat. From the capital, Freetown, The AfricaPaper’s correspondent reports.
By Abubakarr Kamara | The AfricaPaper
FREETOWN – President Ernest Bai Koroma has on Friday, Nov. 23 been re-elected with 58.7 percent of valid votes cast while his top rival, Julius Maada Bio recorded a 37.4 percent, according to Dr. Christiana A. M. Thorpe, Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
“In exercise of the powers conferred on the Returning Officer by section 52 of the Public Elections Act, 2012, I hereby certify that 1,314,881 valid votes were cast in favor of the candidate Ernest Bai Koroma at that [the] election, and Ernest Bai Koroma therefore received 58.7 percent of valid votes cast in the election and has been duly elected president of the Republic of Sierra Leone at the Presidential election of 2012,” announced Thorpe, who also served as Returning Officer of NEC.
The All People’s Congress (APC) party leader has in the last five years administered an increase in investment opportunities in Sierra Leone that has made the International Community to foresee its economy to grow by 30 percent by the end of this year and hence become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
The NEC’s leader confirms that the commission had followed international standards and ensured a due process where every vote counts and that every vote has been counted and the voices of the people heard.
When the announcement was made at about 18:30 hrs, groups of youths and elders shouted and cheered around Abacha Street and several other vicinities in the capital, Freetown, including the Cotton Tree, Clock Tower and the APC party headquarters at Old Railway Line in Brookfields, Freetown among others.
“It’s a dream comes true and I’m very happy to be part of this history. This is a president, who has worked assiduously to unite the people of this country and has strive tremendously well in building the nation,” says Memunatu Gobeh, 48, a trader along Abacha Street.
The celebrations that started in Freetown spread like wildfire during the harmattan wind and stretches to every district in the country. Friday night was unofficially declared a National night of festivity.
While the celebrations were going on, the press was demanding an concession speech from Ernest Bai Koroma’s main contender, Julius Maada Bio but he did not make any. Rumors were that the opposition SLPP were contemplating court action against NEC for what they described as incredible elections even before the results were announced.
Both the SLPP and the PMDC have raised concerns about ballot stuffing and over voting, which after a recount, the Commission only annulled five polling stations in the Western Area and a total of about 11 nationwide.
However, the Sierra Leone Constitution makes provision for citizens, who voted in an elections to contest the authority of the election of the President conducted by the Electoral Commission.
“Any citizen of Sierra Leone may challenge the validity of the election of the president by petition to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, within seven days after the declaration of the presidential results,” Dr. Thorpe concluded her declaration of the President of Sierra Leone.
Electoral data and information collected reveal that the average national turnout for the Nov. 17 polls was 87.3 percent and the total number of valid votes cast was 2,350,626 of which 108,898 were invalid, representing 4.7 percent of total votes cast.
Koroma’s next task for many Sierra Leoneans at home and the diaspora is how to bring the country together, double his government’s pace in addressing the slow development process, and seriously tackle the corrupt policies that keep investors out of the country. Political analysts observe that the election honeymoon will soon be over, and the unemployed youths can’t wait for long. For now, APC party supporters throughout the country continue to celebrate.