Posted On March 24, 2018 By In None With 81 Views

Sierra Leone court issue delay order for presidential run-off

Freetown, March 24, 2018 (AFP)

Sierra Leone’s High Court issued an order to halt Tuesday’s presidential run-off until it resolves a legal dispute filed by a lawyer linked to the ruling party.
Tensions are high ahead of the vote with a campaign marked by violent attacks and intimidation against politicians and supporters, along with an increase in inflammatory tribal rhetoric.
Saturday’s order prevents the National Electoral Commission (NEC) from going ahead with the vote until “the hearing and determination of this court”.
The court adjourned the case until Monday to allow time for the commission to submit a question to the Supreme Court after which the High Court would sit again to reconsider the matter.
“The commission awaits service of official documents, but understands that the matter will return to court on Monday,” the polling body said in a statement.
“While legal proceedings are ongoing, the commission will continue its practical and logistical preparations for the run-off,” it added.
Lawyer Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, a member of the ruling All Peoples’ Congress (APC), had argued in his filing that electoral fraud allegations should be investigated before the vote goes ahead.
The APC’s candidate, Samura Kamara, finished slightly behind Julius Maada Bio of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in the first round of voting on March 7, but neither candidate gained the 55 percent of votes needed to win outright.
The opposition alleges that the police are puppets of the APC after they entered the NEC premises and interrogated staff this week.
That came following a raid on the home of SLPP candidate Bio after polls closed on the day of the first round.
That vote was declared fair and credible by international and domestic observers.
The Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said Thursday the polling body was “working under exceptional challenges to discharge its constitutional responsibilities within tight time constraints”.
He further demanded all sides “exercise restraint and not interfere with or compromise the independence and integrity of NEC”.

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