News / Africa

Sierra Leone Vote Counting Proceeds

A woman carrying a baby on her back votes at a polling station in Freetown on November 17, 2012.
A woman carrying a baby on her back votes at a polling station in Freetown on November 17, 2012.
Anne Look
Vote counting is underway in the West African nation of Sierra Leone after a calm, but enthusiastic, day of polling for presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

Polling stations opened more or less on time to long lines of voters in the capital, Freetown, Saturday.

Voters said peace and progress were on their minds.

"I've got to be here to put things right. To put things right here, we have to vote for the right person in the right place and I've got to be a part of that," said a voter who gave her name as Fona.
 
"We are looking for progress in our country. That is my main purpose of coming here to vote. I am quite sure this vote is going to be peaceful and we are hoping nothing like chaos will happen here," said voter John Camara.
 
A third voter, Peter Beckley, expressed hope for a brighter future for Sierra Leone.
 
"I believe this is the only way I can express what I wish for this country, a better life for everybody especially the fact that we have actually lagged behind as far as education is concerned," he said. "There are a lot of unemployed youths on the streets. People don't have the basic necessities that they really deserve to get life going."
 
The election is a key test for Sierra Leone as it tries to prove its democratic credentials and shake off a violent past, now ten years since the end of a brutal decade long civil war.
 
The European Union's chief election observer, Richard Howitt, said that turnout looked high. He said he had talked to voters who had gotten in line as early as 2 a.m.

"Huge enthusiasm, a good atmosphere," Howitt noted. "If there's any ill-temper, than it's really just people being impatient for waiting quite long times to exercise their [right to] vote."
 
Violence has erupted during previous elections. Police and military manned roadblocks in the capital and were positioned throughout polling stations on Saturday.
 
Civil society groups set up a "Citizen's Situation Room" to monitor the voting environment in real time via text messages from 9,493 observers, one for each polling station.
 
A child street vendor stands in front of a poster for Sierra Leone's ruling party presidential candidate Ernest Bai Koroma, Freetown, Nov. 16, 2012.A child street vendor stands in front of a poster for Sierra Leone's ruling party presidential candidate Ernest Bai Koroma, Freetown, Nov. 16, 2012.
x
A child street vendor stands in front of a poster for Sierra Leone's ruling party presidential candidate Ernest Bai Koroma, Freetown, Nov. 16, 2012.
A child street vendor stands in front of a poster for Sierra Leone's ruling party presidential candidate Ernest Bai Koroma, Freetown, Nov. 16, 2012.
Incumbent president Ernest Bai Koroma is running for a second five-year term in office under the banner of the All People's Congress, or APC. He voted amid cheers from supporters at a polling station in Freetown.
 
Koroma told reporters that he is pleased by the "huge turnout" and the peaceful process up to this moment that he hopes will continue. He says this is a democratic process and "when the people speak we have to listen."
 
Koroma's top competition is opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People's Party or SLPP. Bio is a former military leader who stepped down just months after a 1996 coup. He also cast his ballot in the capital, Freetown.
 
"I have said always that we want a clean election, an election whose results all of us can afford to live with, one that is not controversial, one that is transparent, one that is free of violence … Definitely, I am ready to live with a result that represents the wish and aspirations of the majority of people of this nation," he said.
 
There is concern that disputes over results, in particular unofficial partial results released by the media and political parties, could spark violence. The National Election Commission has 10 days to announce final results. 
 
If none of the nine presidential candidates wins 55 percent of the vote, a run-off is planned for December 8.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gibrilla from: China
November 21, 2012 4:28 AM
Bravo Sierra Leoneans for conducting another free, fair and peaceful election. We indeed position our sweet mama Salone as a true model of Democracy in Africa. We are getting their fellow Sierra leoneans. Let us all join hands together with who so ever is declared as the winner and move our country from where it is. Almighty God will expose and punish who so ever is planning any evil and unrest in our beloved land. We only have one Sierra Leone.


by: Claudia Cline-Cole from: Freetown
November 19, 2012 11:59 AM
I want to applaud the people of Sierra Leone in maintaining peace during the election. It was FREE from VIOLENCE!!! However, according to the NEC chairperson, Dr Christiana Thorpe, there was huge irregularities which included ballot stuffing, over voting etc. Sierra Leoneans are waiting patiently to see what happens next as the same situation (irregularities) happened in 2007 and results from 477 polling stations were cancelled. Dr Thorpe your credibility is at stake and we expect you to cancel any polling station(s) that defaulted.


by: rosaline freetown from: freetown
November 19, 2012 9:28 AM
Ample evidence of vote rigging and other irregularities witnessed and have been partly confirmed by the NEC itself and finally reports in international media.

Sierra leone braces for poll results amid fraud claims http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g1S5zK7yurSwT1zBLUezhkO9 DAEg?docId=CNG.c5c524bbb5ef74aa7cee6bd1d1e2e2fb.521


by: Demba Marah from: Boston, USA
November 18, 2012 11:02 PM
I here by shower my brothers and sisters with an enormous praise for the good loyalty they have shown to their beloved country, Sierra Leone during election day. We the Sierra leoneans had set a pace for other states to follow our example. I hope we have good governance in the entire country and God bless mother Sierra leone. Thanks.


by: Mo Bangura from: Reading UK
November 18, 2012 12:55 PM
What a great turnout and what a peaceful elections!!! Sierra Leoneans can do anything if they so wish, we will show the world that we are intelligent people with a stronger bond than ever. God bless this country and people. We did it before and we are doing it again. Thank you all for exercising your citizenship right.
MMBB in UK


by: Anonymous
November 18, 2012 7:05 AM
We all continue to pray for our beloved Sierra Leone. We are hoping for a change for the better . My plea to all contestants is, you all cannot rule the country at the same Time, so, give chance to whoever is declared winner. Sierra Leone used to be the Athens of Africa for education, but we have lagged behind. Let's push now my people

In Response

by: Abdul Pumagoi from: United States
November 18, 2012 8:59 PM
Absolutely, and our prayers will not go in vain. It is time for our beloved country to emerge from the decades of oblivion, and to fully embrace the wind of change modernization brings. I would like to admonish our next president to stir the ship of our country with compassion.

In Response

by: SAS from: Boston, MA
November 18, 2012 2:36 PM
I'm impressed by the Election's non-violence strategy. Sierra Leone election on a peaceful process up to election day is a bravo to the organizers, advisers and contestants. Keep it up.
Yes it's quiet true that Education is the backone of developmet, and let who ever wins address this issue to the highest degree. This is for the benefit of all all. Thank you.


by: Kassim from: United States
November 17, 2012 11:56 PM
A common misconception: "ten years since the end of a brutal decade long civil war." The conflict in sierra leone was not a civil war but rather unorganized banditry. There were no leaders but rather groups of armed youths, drawn into the conflict by drugs and desperation. The government was so weak that it could provide no protection, none the less organization. It was a chaotic anarchistic time period, when rebels and bandits reigned in a lawless society, killing each other just at they killed the citizens of freetown.


by: joxua88 from: Burlington
November 17, 2012 4:21 PM
I'd be a leader for Sierra Leone, if granted the privilege to aspire the community of Freetown. I'm pretty inspired here in America!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid