Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Sierra Leone Decides...

7 March 2018, Freetown, Sierra Leone 

Today was a big day in Sierra Leone as voters went to cast their votes at the polling stations. Across the country 11,000 polling stations were open for voting between 7 am and 5 pm and according to the National Electoral Commission, 3,178,663 people were registered to vote. At some polling stations, people starting lining up at 2 am, at others it was later, but by 7 am, most of the stations were open to voters. The voters were each given 4 ballots to vote for Presidential, Parliamentary, Local Council and Mayoral candidates. Once the ballots were marked, they were immediately deposited into the designated ballot boxes. After polling stations closed at 5pm, the manual counting of the votes began.

The day was peaceful and there was a great atmosphere in the air. I was able to visit two polling centres and it was great to sense the excitement. From what I could see, and from what I’ve read, NEC organised the election extremely well, and in most polling stations, it has been reported that voting was carried out well.

It wasn’t until after 5pm that there was some commotion reported in a few different areas in Freetown. Apparently the police searched the premises of the main opposition leader, where he and his team were monitoring the elections, on allegations that they were hacking results. This intrusion led to commotion. Thankfully the former Ghanaian President, also head of the Commonwealth election observer mission, diffused the situation. It is of note that counting of votes is all done manually.

A time of waiting and anticipation has begun and many people will be listening to their radios over the coming days while the counting continues. NEC will announce initial results once 25% of the votes have been counted and verified.

Let’s wait patiently and peacefully. Amazing patriotism was shown today. Please continue to make Sierra Leone proud. Stand United.

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