APC cements poll victory in Freetown

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IOL pic nov28 sierra leone elections

Associated Press

Supporters of the ruling All People's Congress listen to the results of last week's parliamentary elections being announced live over the radio in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Monday.

Freetown - Sierra Leone's ruling party scored a majority of seats in Parliament on Tuesday after general elections which the main opposition claims were flawed, despite kudos from the international community.

The All People's Congress (APC) cemented its poll victory by taking 67 seats in the legislature, while the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) came in second with 42 seats, according to the National Election Commission.

The results of three seats were not announced as one of the contestants died, while the other two were subjected to a court injunction.

Another 12 unelected seats in the 124-seat parliament are reserved for paramount chiefs appointed from each of the country's provincial districts.

President Ernest Koroma was sworn in on Friday after winning a second term at the helm of the West African nation with 58.7 percent of votes, prompting SLPP candidate Julius Maada Bio to cry foul, claiming widespread poll fraud.

“The process was fraudulent and the results do not reflect the will of Sierra Leoneans,” said the former military ruler who trailed in second place with 37.4 percent of the vote.

Bio has not indicated what his next move will be in challenging the results but urged his supporters to “remain calm and law abiding”.

The country has remained peaceful in the wake of the announcement of results from its third election - held November 17 - since the end of a brutal 11-year civil war in 2002.

The conflict left the world with images of feared rebel leaders armed from the sale of “blood diamonds” recruiting drugged-up child soldiers and hacking the limbs off thousands of civilians.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the country on its “successful and peaceful elections which clearly demonstrated the people's strong commitment to consolidating democracy and development”.

In a statement released in New York, he urged Sierra Leoneans to work together and for political leaders to maintain the atmosphere of calm.

Ban urged “all sides to address any outstanding grievances peacefully and through established national mechanisms and institutions”.

African Union chairperson and Benin's leader Boni Yayi visited Sierra Leone on Tuesday to congratulate the nation on a successful election and also urged Bio to use legal means to address his concerns.

“No violence please,” Yayi told a press conference in the capital Freetown.

“The election has been acclaimed by local and international observers as transparent and credible and if there are any grievances, the judicial process should be sought.”

“Sierra Leone is part of the new Africa and there is need to strengthen peace and good governance in the continent.”

Koroma, who has promised to boost jobs and growth in the mineral-rich nation in his second term, said he would “continue to extend the olive branch to all political parties”.

“The election is a demonstration of our acceptance of democracy. Sierra Leone has won and the process of transformation has begun. We shall have an equitable distribution of resources.” - Sapa-AFP


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