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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sierra Leone presidential run-off now to hold on March 31

Sierra Leone’s delayed presidential election run-off will now hold on March 31, the National Electoral Commission said in a statement on Monday, after a delay caused by allegations of fraud in the first round.

The face-off between opposition leader Julius Maada Bio and ruling party standard-bearer Samura Kamara was supposed to take place on Tuesday but was delayed after a complaint from a member of Kamara’s All People’s Congress.

The NEC had requested that the elections be pushed back four days because its preparations had been interrupted by a High Court injunction imposed on the election on Saturday. That injunction was lifted on Monday.

President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office. The March 7 vote to replace him unfolded mostly peacefully, but was marred by allegations of fraud in some districts and complaints of police harassment against the electoral commission,.

Still, the peaceful nature of the election, and the fact that outgoing president Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping down while other African presidents seek to extend their mandates, is seen as a positive sign for a country whose 1990s civil war was characterised by the sale of conflict diamonds and the recruitment of child soldiers.

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