Sierra Leone’s President calls for a ‘peaceful’ vote ahead of Saturday’s general election

The President of Sierra Leone, a candidate for re-election, held his last rally in the capital at Lumley Beach in Freetown on Tuesday (June 20). Julius Maada Bio held his last rally in the capital before the opening of the polls on Saturday, June 24 ,voters will also elect local MPs and councils.

Julius Maada Bio is one of 13 candidates vying for the top spot. We call for peaceful election said, The Sierra Leone People’s Party candidate at the end of an intense campaign. “I want to appeal to everyone, we want peaceful elections. No violence. You have your card, that day, go vote,” he told his supporters from a beach scene Lumley in Freetown.

Traditional marching-style political street protests were banned this year to avoid potential violence. Macksood Gibril Sesay, a former election commissioner, said he was concerned there was “no healing process” following deadly riots last August. “Everybody knows that elections are a time when something has to happen and then there’s chaos everywhere.”

The two main parties waited nearly a month before the election to publish their manifestos. Since then, the opposition has criticized the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) for allegedly favoring the ruling party, suggesting it is setting the stage for a legal challenge – a tactic both sides have tried used in the past.

Misinformation abounds on both sides, and the online space is likely to have a bigger effect on voters this year than ever before information Minister Mohamed Rahman Swaray told AFP that internet usage had increased to nearly 3 million, from 370,000 in 2018.

Two Opponents

Heading the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Bio, 59, a former coup leader who spent three months as head of state in the 1990s, has defended education and women’s rights during his first term. In an interview with AFP, he said he would then give priority to agriculture and reduce food imports.

Kamara, 72, a former finance and foreign minister who lost to Bio in the 2018 election, told AFP he would restore confidence in the country’s economic institutions and attract direct investment. foreign contact. He is currently on trial for embezzlement of public funds while he was foreign minister, in a case his supporters say was politically motivated.

However, although he campaigned on economic issues, observers believe the dire financial situation is unlikely to directly lead to Bio’s losses.
Dressed in the colors of the ruling party, Bio supporters attending the Lumley beach rally were upbeat:

”We want electricity, of course he (ndlr, Bio) is working on it. LAW? He does it. We want better water. Of course there is,” said student Crispin Harding. “There are places where there’s no light, there’s no electricity, but now that he’s become leader and now that we have these things, we have these opportunities.”

Memunatu Morovia also explained why she would vote for Bio: “education is important and improving resources is important too. This is why I love Maada Bio for all he has done for the Sierra Leoneans”

Most Sierra Leones vote in favor of long-term loyalty to the region, and are of the opinion that jobs and benefits will flow to regions where politicians are in power. A June 14 poll by IGR, a partner of the pan-Africa polling  company Afrobarometer, predicted that Bio would win 56% of the vote and Kamara would get 43%.

In the parliamentary elections, he expects the SLPP to win between 56 and 61% of the seats, with the APC taking the rest. Bio’s critics say the civilian space has shrunk under his supervision.

Sierra Leone’s score on the annual index of US pro-democracy advocacy group Freedom House has dropped to 63% this year, from 66% in 2018. Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, chief election commissioner, said the opposition was focusing on attacking the body rather than campaigning.

“In the end, people will get confused” and not vote, he told AFP, calling on the opposition to help educate voters about the new proportional representation system. Polling stations will open June 24 at 7 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.

Sierra Leone will go to the polls under a new proportional representation system following a last-minute change from the previous electoral system.

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