The National Electoral Commission (NEC) Sierra Leone has released a campaign calendar and guidelines for the March 27 presidential run-off election involving the candidates of the main opposition rtd Brig. Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and Dr Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC).
Bio, a former junta leader who returned power to elected civilians and Kamara, outgoing Foreign Minister and former Central Bank Governor, were frontrunners in the March 7 first round vote with 43.33% and 42.7% scores respectively.
NEC said the two political parties and their candidates could campaign across the 16 Administrative Districts from 15th to 25th March, with each party granted exclusive permit on specific days in designated Districts to avoid clashes.
Following the inconclusive first round vote, political horse trading and realignment of forces are reportedly going on among the 17 registered political parties.
As part of preparations for the run-off vote NEC is procuring new ballot papers bearing the photographs of the two candidates as against the previous design with 16 candidates. The Commission is also expected to retrain polling officials and ready the electoral machinery for hitch-free voting.
The March 7 vote recorded some 84% voter turn-out and the run-off is expected to be even more fiercely contested. The winner will replace out-going President Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC who has completed his constitutionally allowed two mandates of five years each in a country where the APC and the SLPP have dominated political power since independence from Britain in 1961.
The Core Team of ECOWAS Long-Term Observers, including Secretariat staff of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), is on ground monitoring the electoral processes.
The ECOWAS Observation Mission supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), European Union and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
Meanwhile, from the 24 parliamentary results released Thursday by NEC, the APC has 13 seats, SLPP 10, and the Coalition for Change (C4C) one seat.
The country has 144-seat unicameral parliament, including 132 contested seats complemented by 12 seats for Paramount Chiefs.
Source: Paul Ejime | firstname.lastname@example.org|