Sierra Leone re-elects President Ernest Bai Koroma, opposition says election flawed


Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma greeting guests after delivering a speech at the 50th Anniversary reception for members of the diaspora on Saturday, 23 April 2011.


Tamika Payne

Sierra Leone re-elected President Ernest Bai Koroma, but his opposition said the poll was flawed and is disputing its results.

Koroma, 59, easily won the election with 59 percent of the vote, beating his closest competitor, Sierra Leone People's Party's candidate Julius Maada Bio, who had 37 percent, reported CNN. He avoided a second round of voting when he earned more than 55 percent of the vote.

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But the SLPP said in a statement released Saturday that it had documented "systematic and widespread irregularities, malpractices and injustices" that occurred on polling day, according to the Associated Press.

The questioning risks tarnishing a vote seen as free and fair by outsiders and that many hope will help pave the way for an economic revival of the war-torn nation, reported Reuters. While the dispute stopped short of outright rejecting the results, a top party official said chances were slim the SLPP would accept its defeat.

"It's very unlikely. Our membership are very strong-hearted about it," the SLPP's national secretary general Banja Tejan-Sie told Reuters.

The election is only the third since the end of Sierra Leone's 11-year-civil war, noted the AP. If the SLPP is unwilling to accept the results, it could undermine stability.