Election observers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday hailed the conduct of the March 7 presidential, parliamentary and local council polls in Sierra Leone.
In a statement, the bloc — comprising 70 observers led by Liberia’s former interim president, Amos Sawyer — praised both the colorful campaigns and voting process.
“Despite some minor issues recorded, including a vehicular ban and slow start, the entire process went on in an open, transparent and orderly manner. We want to commend the peace-loving people of Sierra Leone for their comportment during the voting process. We call on them to continue to respect the ongoing process and assure them that ECOWAS will continue to follow [developments] closely,” the statement said.
Local observer group the National Elections Watch (NEW) is projecting a presidential runoff between former Foreign Affairs Minister Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress Party (APC) and Julius Maada Bio Sierra of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
In a statement, NEW said it deployed over 1,100 local observers across the country and also commended the peaceful nature of the exercise.
The group said that according to its Parallel Vote Tabulation, or quick count, they are expecting a presidential runoff.
“There will be a second round of voting because none of the candidates will secure a 55 percent constitutional threshold. NEW wishes to assure the general public that it has empirical evidence to support this projection. We however want to make it clear that only the elections commission has the mandate to announce the final results,” the statement added.
Provisional results, however, put the APC in a slight lead over the SLPP. The National Elections Commission has asked for more time and patience as vote counting continues.