The ruling party candidate in Sierra Leone, Samura Kamara and main opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio have spoken out following the first round of the presidential election, where none of them garnered the required 55% plus one vote threshold to be declared outright winner.
The final official results declared by the National Electoral Commission indicated that the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party’s (SLPP) won the first round with 43.5% of the votes cast while the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) came in second with 42.7%.
Maada Bio says ‘elections are over’
The electoral defeat of the ruling party has been capitalised by the opposition, with Bio delivering his message as though he were the duly elected president of Sierra Leone.
We have the numbers, we have the support of the people of Sierra Leone; all we need in this Second Round is to ensure that there is no disconnect, no complacency.
He thanked Sierra Leoneans for entrusting him with the responsibility of leading the country and declared that elections are over despite the fact that he still has to participate in the election run-off.
‘‘The elections are over and we must now begin to unite our country. To all my former contenders for the Presidency, I call on all of you to join me to address the critical development challenges we face as a country,’‘ Bio said.
‘‘As we look forward to a peaceful transition, I want to assure all Sierra Leoneans and our development partners that national cohesion will be at the heart of my administration.”
Samura Kamara asks supporters to remain vigilant
The former foreign affairs minister who was endorsed by the outgoing president Ernest Bai Koroma, was understandably less assertive in his reaction to electoral defeat.
Appealing to the more than 57% of voters that rejected Dr. Samura and the ruling APC at the polls, he said,
“I am asking you to choose experience, credibility, honesty and passion which are the compelling virtues we need to take our country forward at this time.”
Both Bio and Samura must now win the support of almost all of the leaders of the opposition parties to ensure victory at the runoff, especially Dr Kandeh Yumkella of the NGC who polled 6.8% , and Samuel Sam Sumana of the C4C party with his 3.5% of votes.
It’s an interesting day in #SierraLeone posters have emerged from the two political parties that will go to a run off. Each poster includes leaders of the two losing but influential coalition parties. #SierraLeone #SierraLeoneDecides #SierraLeoneElections pic.twitter.com/SHKXWKoS0j— Vickie Remoe (@VickieRemoe) March 14, 2018
Samura called on Sierra Leoneans to remain peaceful during the second round of the election and asked members of his party to remain vigilant and steadfast.
‘‘We have the numbers, we have the support of the people of Sierra Leone; all we need in this Second Round is to ensure that there is no disconnect, no complacency. This means that we must all be watchful and monitor the process to the final end,’‘ Samura said.
The presidential election run-off will be held on March 27.
Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office. The largely peaceful vote to replace him came as a relief for the country of seven million people, which endured a brutal, diamond-fuelled civil war in the 1990s.
But the winner will face pressure to revive a moribund economy that has been ravaged in recent years by low prices for its main export, iron ore, and an Ebola outbreak.