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Sierra Leoneans to Get Preliminary Election Results Monday

Sierra Leoneans may Monday get preliminary results from Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Officials say balloting was generally smooth across the country. Some international observers say vote met international standards. Saturday’s elections were the first for Sierra Leone since U.N. peacekeepers left the country two years ago.

Christiana Thorpe is the chief electoral commissioner for Sierra Leone. She told VOA election officials began receiving the first batch of results Sunday.

“We started results at the tally center. We received results from the western and rural districts and then we received from three districts in the northern province. They are now being imported into this data base,” she said.

Thorpe said the Electoral Commission would hold a news conference 5 P.M. (local time Monday) to announce the first preliminary results.

“Currently we are receiving the results from all the regions, from the districts, and we hope that by Monday, 5 P.M. we’ll be able to give the preliminary results. We will be having a press conference Monday where we will give the first set of preliminary results,” Thorpe said.

She said her commission is pleased with the overall conduct of Saturday’s election.

“Very successful. There was a great turnout and very peaceful, and we are very satisfied with the process; we are satisfied with the turnout, and we would like to congratulate the people of Sierra Leone for taking the elections very seriously nationally,” he said.

The two frontrunners in Saturday’s elections – the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) – have accused each other of rigging the vote and intimidation.

But Thorpe said her commission has received no official complaint from any party. She also said there were isolated incidences of violence on election day but that they were minimal.

She clarified what she called the suspicion of some that extra ballot papers might have been introduced at some polling stations.

“What happened, training was done for the polling agents on the 10th (of August). We recruited the staff from their constituencies, and were they trained in the areas where they will work. So the training kits went to these polling stations, and were used for the training. Training ended about 6 P.M. on the 10th (of August), so the training kits were left in the station. And the following morning, the morning of the 11th (August), the real ballot kits went in. So once people came and saw the training kits in some other room, they just concluded those were extra ballot papers that had been tampered with,” Thorpe said.