Sierra Leone court upholds injunction to delay election run-off

Ruling party member, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, filed for the injunction on Thursday, saying there was evidence of electoral fraud.

A women cast her ballot as part of the general elections on 7 March 2018 at a polling station in Freetown in Sierra Leone. Picture: AFP

FREETOWN – A Sierra Leone court on Saturday upheld a request by a member of the ruling party for an injunction to delay a presidential election run-off that was meant to happen next Tuesday.

The party member, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, filed for the injunction on Thursday, saying there was evidence of electoral fraud that needed to be investigated before the poll could go ahead.

No new date has been set.

Opposition leader Julius Maada Bio, of the Sierra Leone People’s Party - briefly a former military junta leader - will be running against Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress, after neither of the two front-runners secured an outright majority in the first round.

The largely peaceful nature of the election, and the fact that outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma is willingly stepping down, is seen as a sign of how far Sierra Leone has come since a 1990s civil war characterized by the mutilation of civilians, the sale of conflict diamonds and the widespread recruitment of children as militia fighters.

But tensions over alleged fraud in some districts, and complaints of police harassment against the electoral commission, have marred the process.

Sierra Leonians are keen to get on with the vote, so that Koroma’s replacement can start work reviving a flagging economy that has been damaged by low prices for its main export, iron ore, and a deadly Ebola outbreak.