Sierra Leone’s main opposition has taken lead of the March 7 polls in the final results leading for a run-off. The National Electoral Commission has announced 100% percent clearance of the 2018, multi tier elections run in 332,000 polling centres and 11,122 polling stations across the country.
No party met the constitutional 55% percent threshold to win the presidency on first ballots cast, and the opposition is leading by a margin of 1% percent of total vote casts.
Final scores for the APC are: 1, 082, 748 and the SLPP garners, 1,097,482. The APC is left on a tight rope distance of 14,734 to gallop in. They have to close this gap and overtake in the run-off, which is going to be determined by a simple majority threshold, if they should win the 2018 Presidential Elections.
The Sierra Leone People’s Party however, appeared to maintain a steady progress in the 3rd announcement of progressive results done on Sunday March 11th, representing 75% percent of total votes cast. The APC candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara scored 833,519 representing 42.57% and Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio got 848,438, representing 43.33%. This was the turning point for the SLPP –leading by a margin of 14,919 votes, representing 0.76%
The APC held on to a lead of 1,426 votes representing 0.11% lead with 50% of the votes counted. They initially held a substantial vote cast of 17,581 representing 2.6%, the widest ever in the 2018 Presidential Election.
The Chief Electoral Officer and National Returning Officer, Mohamed N’fa Alie Conteh reported on Tuesday March 13, that the NEC had deliberations with political parties that requested re-counts and the commission ordered re-counts in 154 polling stations, which outcomes were included in the final 25% percent of the results.
He said, “The results from 221 polling stations were excluded, including where the votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters (including voters on the supplementary list).”
He referenced sections 87(2) of the Public Elections Act, 2012, the results of those polling stations are declared null and void and not included in the final results announced. The number of invalid votes cast at the Presidential Elections on March 7, 2018, he said, was 139,427, whereas 2,537,122 is the number of valid votes.
The NEC boss also referenced sections 52(2) and 94(4) of the Public Elections Act, 2012 and sections 42(3) of the constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, which dictated the 55% percent threshold of valid votes cast. “Pursuant to section 43(2)(e) and (f) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, there will be a second election (run-off) exclusively between the All People’s Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Presidential Candidate, Julius Maada Bio.” However, March 27 has been scheduled for the run-off.
Recounting was done in a further 72 polling stations, in addition to the 82 polling stations identified for recounts reported to the public on Monday, March 12, a day before the final results were announced. According to N’fa Alie Conteh, the outcome represents less than 2% out of the 11,122 polling stations.
Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella’s National Grand Coalition (NGC) and Chief Samuel Sam Sumama’s Coalition for Change (C4C) played the significant King Maker role as they established a firm grip in their home towns. The NGC scored 174,014 total valid votes cast representing 6.9% threshold in the polls. Greater portions of his votes came from the North-western border town of Kambia, where he won the district council sit and a number of Members of Parliament. The ruling All People’s Congress won the council sit twice in 2007 and 2012 and Kambia has had a consistent voting tradition aligning with the All People’s Congress. This time, with Dr. Yumkella in the arena of politics, the narrative has changed.
The Coalition for Change C4C appears to rewrite the story in the diamondiferous Eastern Kono district. The district was a swing state because no one political party had control over Kono. As such it was unorthodox for political parties to describe there as a stronghold. It is a cosmopolitan habitat with fractions of people from other districts because of ongoing mining activities.
The C4C scored 87, 720, representing 3.5% of the total votes cast in the March 7, 2018 Presidential Elections. Unlike Dr. Yumkella who break-away from the Sierra Leone People’s Party, Chief Samuel Sam Sumana was asked away from the All People’s Congress after he was controversially removed from his position as Vice President of Sierra Leone. The latter’s party won some parliamentary sits in Kono with sparse votes in other parts of the country.
Ahead of the run-off, the APC and SLPP are to some extent going to depend on either of the two King Makers or both. Story by Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally