By Lawrence Williams
The Chief Electoral Commissioner and National Returning Officer of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL), Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, has declared incumbent Julius Maada Bio (photo) the outright winner of the presidential poll conducted on June 24. Announcing the results this evening, Konneh said Bio pulled 1,566,932 representing 56.17% of the total valid votes cast as opposed to his main challenger Dr. Samura Kamara who pulled 1,148,262 representing 41.16% of the votes. This means that Bio won the election by a margin of 418,670 votes, or 16.17% of the total valid votes cast.
Samura’s All Peoples Congress (APC) party had earlier rejected the results, saying they were skewed in favour of Bio’s Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP). This came after ECSL announced 60% of the results on Monday. In a statement read out today, Samura said there was “a total lack of transparency and accountability at critical stages of the electoral process” and further called it “a brazen attempt to topple democracy”.
In a statement issued earlier today, National Elections Watch (NEW), a domestic watchdog group promoting credible elections in Sierra Leone, projected no presidential candidate met the 55% threshold requirement to be declared the outright winner of the first round. Therefore, a runoff was imminent. NEW said they deployed 6,000 election observers across the country covering all polling centres nationwide, and employed the “Process and Results Verification for Transparency (PRVT)” methodology which allowed them “to assess the quality of election day processes and independently verify the official election results announced by the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone”.
“Based on our PRVT findings and the ECSL data announced thus far, we are confident that once all votes are counted with integrity, voter turnout will be 77.3% and no candidate will reach the constitutional threshold of 55% of votes cast in the first round,” NEW’s report states.
The SLPP has strongly opposed that statement and accused NEW and its leadership of being swayed. On the other hand, the Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) has issued a statement of solidarity with NEW, stating that the latter had employed the “most systematic and precise methodologies to produce their observation findings” in accordance with the Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations.
“GNDEM stands with NEW and has confidence in their methodology,” their statement reads.
As he spoke to local media just after the announcement, President Bio said he is delighted to be given a second term mandate and asked all stakeholders to support his administration going forward.
“I urge all political parties, including the APC, to join me in developing Sierra Leone,” he said.
In addition, Bio said he would reach out to losing candidates to get their support for his administration’s agenda.
Meanwhile, the president has already subscribed to the ‘Oath of Office’ in a short ceremony convened at State House immediately after the announcement of results.