Long-delayed elections in Sierra Leone begin following allegations of fraud

Long-delayed elections in Sierra Leone begin following allegations of fraud

The voters of Sierra Leone will finally head to the polls today, following the postponement of the country’s presidential runoff

Supporters of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party attend a rally ahead of the March 7 presidential election in Makeni

Photo: Reuters/Olivia Acland

The voters of Sierra Leone will finally head to the polls today, following the postponement of the country’s presidential runoff election due to claims of fraud.

After both front-running candidates failed to secure a majority of the vote, the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party accused the opposition of over-stuffing ballot boxes. After the High Court suspended the vote, opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio denounced the claim as an APC tactic to keep outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma in power.

Although the election’s validity is currently in question with nearly 200 cases of fraud being investigated, the judiciary lifted the injunction earlier this week. However, voters must now travel long distances on short notice to cast their ballots. This, combined with the fear of electoral violence, may cause many to stay home.

The potential for low voter turnout would undermine an already fragile democratic process in a struggling country. Though currently either man’s game, if APC candidate Samura Kamara is elected, Sierra Leone will likely stray even further from democracy with Koroma maintaining a strong influence through party leadership in the years to come.