March 2018 Elections Declared Mostly Peaceful

Peaceful Assembly

In March 2018, the Carter Center released its observation mission report into Sierra Leone’s presidential, local council and parliamentary elections that took place on 7th March 2018. The opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio won the election after a re-run held on 5th April 2018. Samura Kamara, the candidate for the incumbent party lost with 48.19 percent of the vote compared to Bio’s 51.81 percent.

The report describes the campaign as “for the most part conducted in a peaceful manner” and as having “provided political parties an adequate opportunity to present their respective platforms to the general public”. The National Elections Commission and the Political Party Registration Committee played active roles to ensure that pre-election engagements by political parties were done within the confines of the law and with respect for good conduct in an enabling political environment. However, some incidents of violence by party supporters, and inaction by police in response, were reported after the first round of elections. Ibrahim Tawa Conteh who won a seat in west Freetown, said he had been attacked while campaigning and the police had not taken action against his assailants even after the took the suspect to the police station.

On the contrary, security forces demonstrated restraint during demonstrations after the first round of elections when Sierra Leone High Court lifted an injunction halting the presidential election run-off due to be held on 27th March. Following the court’s decision, supporters of the opposition presidential candidate who had assembled outside the court buildings, were allowed to express their jubilation without adverse interference from the police.