There is a growing tension in Sierra Leone after the declaration of the March 7 general election results which pitted the victor, the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) against the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) for a run-off on March 27.
Julius Maada Bio
SLPP candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military coup leader won the first round of the peaceful presidential election with 43.3 percent of votes, beating APC candidate Samura Kamara who won took 42.7 percent of the vote.
The resolve to win over voters during the run-off has resulted in a spate of political violence including beatings, stone-throwing and arson attacks amid accusations of tribalism levelled against both parties.
Kamara accused SLPP supporters of throwing stones at him when he stopped at a bar, in the capital Freetown, which was subsequently burned down after he left. This was confirmed by police saying both candidates had been attacked and had had their cars and houses torched.
The police deployed an extra 4,000 officers to the streets while religious leaders and international organisations call for an end to the tribal rhetoric that is fuelling the attacks.
Presidential spokesman Abdulai Baratay is accused of triggering the violence after he reportedly said on state radio last week that the SLPP supporters had voted along tribal lines. An accusation he denied saying he only talked about regionalism.
The African Union has condemned the violence and called on all the stakeholders to uphold peace and avoid violence as they gear towards the run-off presidential election.
“[We] learned with dismay the worrisome prevalence of election-related violence which is increasingly becoming wide-spread across the country, including an incident that occurred in Bo City in which a staff member of the National Electoral Commission was reportedly injured.
“The Chairperson condemns such acts of violence which are inimical to the holding of democratic elections,” a statement from the AU added with a caution to both parties’ supporters “to take immediate steps to avoid recurrence of such unfortunate incidences.”
The National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone has assured that it will hold “will conduct credible elections that ensure peace and stability.”