Sierra Leone’s main opposition party on Saturday called for a repeat of last weekend’s presidential election after incumbent President Julius Maada Bio was declared the winner and quickly sworn in for a second term in the West African country.
The opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) accused Sierra Leone’s electoral commission of conspiring with Bio’s party to rig the results. In a statement, the party also called for the resignation of the chairman of the electoral commission, Mohamed Konneh, and his entire team.
“What culminated in the fraudulent announcement of fraudulent election results on June 25 was not just a mere stealing of the votes of the suffering masses who needed change, it poses the greatest threat to our democracy, our unity and our survival as a nation,” it said it .
According to the official results, Bio received 56.17% of the vote, enough to beat his challenger Kamara while avoiding a runoff. Election officials said Kamara received 41.16% of the votes cast.
Bio, who began his second term days after the vote, tweeted that “all Sierra Leoneans should be peaceful and law-abiding.”
“This is a collective victory for all citizens and now that the elections are over we must come together in pursuit of a common goal which is the development of our dear country,” Bio tweeted.
There were concerns that Sierra Leoneans contesting the outcome of the election could take to the streets. In the West African country, there have already been demonstrators protesting against the economic situation in recent months. Poverty affects nearly 60% of Sierra Leone’s population of over 7 million, with youth unemployment among the highest in West Africa.
The APC’s statement comes at a time when pressure is mounting on the Electoral Commission to be more open in its conduct of the tabulation process of election results.
While regional observers such as the African Union and ECOWAS declared the elections free and fair, other Western observers stressed that the counting and tabulation process lacked transparency. In particular, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and France have put pressure on the Electoral Commission to display the results of all polling stations.