Sierra Leone opposition warns against delaying vote
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Sierra Leone’s opposition presidential candidate warned Sunday that his party will not accept delaying Tuesday’s runoff vote after the High Court granted an interim injunction he called a delay tactic by the ruling party.
In a press conference televised live on Sunday, Julius Maada Bio accused President Ernest Bai Koroma and his All Peoples Congress party of “pushing us to the point of chaos in the country.”
On Saturday, the court in the West African nation placed an interim injunction on holding the runoff. The matter is expected to be taken up again Monday.
“The motivation of the All Peoples Congress injunction is clear. It is part of a plan ... to provoke large-scale violence in the country and to postpone the runoff election, which will have dire consequences,” Bio said.
If the vote doesn’t go ahead Tuesday, “President Koroma will be considered to be illegitimate and we will not take any orders from him,” Bio added.
There was no immediate comment from APC, whose spokesman has previously said that the party is “not adverse” to the injunction that was granted after a petition was filed by one of its members.
The APC member cited electoral irregularities in the first round and is seeking a manual recount including voided ballots.
Tensions have been escalating since the March 12 vote, when neither the ruling party candidate nor the leading opposition candidate won outright. The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party has not held the presidency since 2007.
Bio, who is making his second electoral bid at the presidency after losing in 2012, took 43.3 percent to 42.7 percent for ruling party candidate Samura Kamara. Bio now stands to pick up votes from the 14 candidates eliminated in the first round.
The winner of Tuesday’s runoff will be tasked with helping the country continue to rebuild after the devastating 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic. The capital also was battered by a deadly mudslide in August that claimed some 1,000 lives.
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.