Sierra Leone Opposition May Dispute Election Results

Posted November 24th, 2012 at 9:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Sierra Leone's main opposition party says the November 17 polls won by by incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma were marred by widespread fraud, and says party leaders will meet Tuesday to consider a possible appeal.

The opposition Sierra Leone People's Party stopped short of outright rejecting election results, which showed Mr. Koroma winning a second term with nearly 59 percent of the vote. SLPP candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military junta leader, finished second with just more than 37 percent.

Mr. Koroma was sworn in for a second term late Friday, after provisional results released by the National Electoral Commission established the margin of victory.

European vote monitors praised the elections as largely peaceful and well-organized. However, they criticized the Koroma campaign for dominating pre-election media coverage and for using state resources for campaign activities.

No results have been announced for parliamentary elections, which also took place November 17.

Mr. Koroma first won the presidency in a 2007 runoff vote, and has since been praised for his progress in improving the country's infrastructure.

The latest polls come as Sierra Leone's 5.5 million residents continue to recover from one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars.

Television footage from the 11-year conflict, which ended in 2002, showed Sierra Leone rebels funding their uprising from the sale of so-called :”blood diamonds.” Wartime video and photographs also showed rebels recruiting legions of child soldiers, as well as camps where mutilated citizens cowered after surviving brutal rebel attacks that left them without arms and legs.