Sierra Leoneans were prepared to decide between candidates Julius Maada Bio and Samura Kamara in a runoff presidential vote scheduled for March 27 but will now have to wait until March 31. Although the Supreme Court struck down an interim injunction halting the runoff election, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) had already halted preparations while awaiting the verdict. The NEC applied for and was subsequently granted more time to organize the vote after the injunction was revoked.
Kamara, of the ruling All People’s Congress Party (ACP), and Bio, of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), originally faced off in an election held on March 7. Neither gained the 55 percent needed to win the election, with Bio taking 43.3 percent and Kamara winning 42.7 percent. Tensions are rising in the West African country after allegations of electoral fraud wreaked havoc on the runoff election process. Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, a lawyer affiliated with the APC, filed and was granted the temporary injunction as a result of election manipulation charges. The opposition party claims that this is merely an attempt to further delay the runoff.
The country has been mired in conflict since the inconclusive decision on March 7. The NEC accused police forces of intimidation tactics, claiming that some officers had “unwarrantedly entered NEC premises, unannounced and at random, interrogated NEC staff, and obstructed them from performing their duties.” Furthermore, the Guardian reported that there have been at least five brutal incidents “involving beatings, stone-throwing, and arson.” As a result, over 4,000 extra police officers are patrolling the streets in order to prevent further violence. As it stands, Sierra Leone should have a new president by March 31.