Tag Archives: SLPP

Final Sierra Leone election results confirm Koroma’s reelection, APC parliamentary win

The results of Sierra Leone’s November 18 presidential election were finalized late last week — and president Ernest Bai Koroma, the candidate of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC), first elected in the last election (very narrowly) in 2007, was reelected by a robust margin.  Koroma has already been re-inaugurated, in fact, despite protests of fraud from the opposition.

Koroma won 58.7% of the vote against Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who won just 37.4%.  Bio, who participated in a coup in 1996 before helping to reestablish a more democratic government in the midst of Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war, briefly served as Sierra Leone’s president in the aftermath of the 1996 coup.  Koroma needed to win 55% of the vote outright in order to avoid a runoff, although no additional candidate, aside from Bio, won a significant share of the vote.

Koroma’s APC also appears to have won a majority of the seats in Sierra Leone’s 124-member unicameral parliament — today’s preliminary results showed the APC with 67 seats (an increase on the 59 seats it held after the 2007 election) to just 42 seats for the SLPP.

Ultimately, Koroma’s APC won its base in the north, the heartland of the Temne ethnic group, while Bio won in the SLPP’s southern base, where the Mende ethnic group predominates.  The lopsided victory owes somewhat to Koroma’s victory in Kono district.  In the map above, Koroma won the northern districts (shown in black), and Bio won the southern districts (shown in grey).

Kono, the east-central district that borders Guinea directly to its east (it’s the southeastern most district that Koroma won, shown in black above), is the most diamond-rich area of Sierra Leone, the source of those infamous ‘blood diamonds’ that so plagued the country during its civil war.  It’s also one of the most diverse districts of Sierra Leone, in terms of both ethnic groups and religions (around 73% of Sierra Leone and are Muslim, though the country has a strong Christian minority), making it somewhat of a ‘swing’ district as well.

Corruption remains a problem in Sierra Leone, but Koroma — and his predecessor, the SLPP’s Ahmad Tejan Kabbah — has worked to rebuild Sierra Leone’s democratic, legal and economic institutions since 2002 when the civil war ended.  In particular, Koroma’s administration has introduced free health care for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under age 5, and it has rebuilt roads and hydroelectric capacity.

Sunday’s election was the third since the end of the civil war, and although Koroma will likely benefit from robust GDP growth in Sierra Leone (6% in 2011, for example), he’ll face the challenge of a country still mired more in poverty than flush with mineral wealth.  Nonetheless, Koroma will turn to several foreign development issues, including the awarding of contracts for mining and for offshore oil exploration.

Although international observers have praised the elections as largely peaceful, fair and free, Bio and the SLPP have accused the APC of committing fraud in the election:

“The process was fraudulent and the results do not reflect the will of Sierra Leoneans,” [Bio] said.

“The party has raised concerns about electoral irregularities including faked and unstamped reconciliation and results forms, pre-marked ballot papers, ballot stuffing and overvoting in Kono (diamond-rich east), the western area and the northern province.

Koroma leads provisional count in Sierra Leone

It appears that — from provisional results at least — that Sierra Leone’s president Ernest Bai Koroma is leading in the count following the November 17 election.

The provisional results are just that, though, so there’s nothing official and there’s nothing indicating that Koroma has yet cleared the 55% for direct reelection (thereby avoiding a runoff).  His chief opponent, Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who actually served briefly as acting president in 1996 following a coup against Sierra Leone’s increasingly corrupt government, has certainly not conceded the race.

Koroma’s party, the All People’s Congress (APC) is doing much better, accordingly to those results, than it did in the prior 2007 election in the key diamond-rich province of Kono, control of which featured prominently in the decade-long civil war that ended in 2012.  As predicted, the APC’s result is strong in the country’s north, home to the Temne ethnic group that has historically supported the APC; the SLPP, meanwhile, has done very well in the south, where the Mende ethnic group predominates.

Official results are required to be announced within 10 days of the vote. The European Union’s monitors issued a report yesterday that claimed the elections were well-conducted in a peaceful environment, despite the SLPP’s accusations of voter fraud.



Obasanjo’s endorsement in Sierra Leone: will it help or hurt?

Nigeria is the regional anchor of West Africa, with a rapidly growing population of 164 million people and easily West Africa’s largest economy — an economy set to overtake South Africa’s economy by 2020. 

So when former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo made an endorsement in the contested presidential race in Sierra Leone, a country of just around five million people, people took notice.

Obasanjo endorsed Sierra Leone’s incumbent president, Ernest Bai Koroma (pictured above, right, with Obasanjo, left), last week.  So what does that mean for Sierra Leone’s elections to be held this Sunday, November 17?

Probably not much.

As Andrew Novak has recently written for Suffragio, Koroma, the candidate of the All People’s Congress (APC), remains a slight favorite against his chief opponent, Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).  The SLPP was formed in 1951 and dominated Sierra Leonean politics immediately before, during and after Sierra Leone’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1961.  The APC, formed in 1960, dominated an increasingly autocratic and corrupt Sierra Leonean government through the early 1990s, when Sierra Leone descended into one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars.  The Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group backed by Liberian strongman Charles Taylor plunged Sierra Leone into a chaotic war that featured the use of child soldiers and other horrific war crimes, mostly fought over control of Sierra Leone’s diamond mines in Kono.

The SLPP’s Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won power in 1996 during the height of the fighting and despite Kabbah’s inability to govern, he won reelection overwhelming in 2002, the same year that Sierra Leone’s civil war ended.  The SLPP lost power in 2007 — Kabbah’s vice president Solomon Berewa lost to Koroma, and despite some tensions, Kabbah peacefully transferred power to Koroma.  The SLPP’s current candidate, Bio, led a coup in 1996 and actually served as Sierra Leone’s president for a short while that year before his government called the elections that Kabbah ultimately won.

Historically, the Temne ethnic group, based in the north, has supported the APC and, indeed, Koroma is Sierra Leone’s first Tenme president.  In contrast, the Mende ethnic group in the south has traditionally supported the SLPP.

It seems more likely that Obasanjo is less interested in swaying Sierra Leonean voters than in ingratiating himself with the president of a country that has recently discovered new offshore petroleum deposits and remains one of the largest diamond-mining countries in the world, although proceeds from diamond mining were long used to fuel lavish personal spending from the 1960s and the 1990s and control of Sierra Leone’s diamond wealth fueled so much of the country’s civil war that Sierra Leone is often said to have suffered from a ‘diamond curse.’  So new discoveries of oil in Sierra Leone have been welcomed, but cautiously so.

Although Obasanjo has been out of office since 2007, he still plays an outsized role in African politics, both at home in Nigeria and abroad, including as a peacekeeping envoy for the United Nations to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Continue reading Obasanjo’s endorsement in Sierra Leone: will it help or hurt?

New ruling parties face strong challenges in Ghana and Sierra Leone

Guest post by Andrew Novak.

Following the upset wins by the All People’s Congress (APC) in Sierra Leone in 2007 and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Ghana in 2008, both countries experienced tense but peaceful transitions of power from the ruling party to the opposition, two successes in sharp contrast to the contemporaneous electoral violence in Kenya and Zimbabwe.  In the midst of a worldwide economic recession, voters in both West African countries will return to the polls — in Sierra Leone on November 17 and Ghana on December 7 — to determine whether the new ruling parties deserve a second term.  With emboldened challengers, both contests are likely to again be close.

In the 2007 Sierra Leonean general election, the APC’s Ernest Bai Koroma (pictured above) narrowly defeated Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), then vice-president of Sierra Leone under the term-limited president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.  With overwhelming support from the north of the country and a strong showing in Freetown, the capital, Koroma was elected in a runoff as the first president from the Temne ethnic group, one of the two main ethnic groups in the country.  This year, he will face another strong challenge from Julius Maada Bio, a former military ruler of the country.  As head of state, Bio organized the elections that resulted in the peaceful transfer of power to Kabbah in March 1996, before the country’s descent into civil war. Continue reading New ruling parties face strong challenges in Ghana and Sierra Leone