March 13, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
While the entire country yesterday waited patiently for the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to announce the remaining 25% of the final presidential votes count, the commission issued a press release last night indicating that they would conduct a further recount in 72 polling stations in addition to the 83 polling stations that were already being recounted across the country.
According to the commission, recount in the 83 polling stations were completed yesterday and that results from those stations were ready to be entered and cleared by the IT systems, stating that no polling station result had been cancelled.
The release noted that of the 11,122 polling stations across the country, 154 polling stations required a recount, representing less than two percent of total number of polling stations.
Chairperson of the commission, Mohamed N’fa Alie Conteh, stated that they were not done with the process and that NEC staff were working around the clock to finalise the results.
“Party agents have scrutinised our work over the last five days, and we have now agreed to a final set of recounts. We are striving to deliver a result in the presidential election as soon as possible,” he said.
According to NEC’s Director of Media and External Relations, Albert Massaquoi, the final 25% of the total vote count would be released today.
Chairperson Mohamed N’fa Ali Conteh had on Sunday announced 75% of the total vote count which saw the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) presidential candidate, Julius Maada Bio, take the lead with 43.33%, followed by the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara, who secured 42.57%.
Presidential candidate for the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, grabbed third position with 6.95%.
After announcing the 75% of total votes count on Sunday, Mr. Conteh promised to release the remaining 25% of the result on either Monday or Tuesday as required by the Public Elections Act 2012.
Late in the evening of Sunday, the commission issued a press release in which they indicated that recounts would take place in 83 polling stations across several districts, including Port Loko, Kambia, Karene, Bonthe and Keneme, where allegations of elections malpractices took place.
He called on the public to exercise patience, adding “we want to announce a credible result.”
Meanwhile, many businesses and schools remain closed yesterday with the expectation that the final result will be read, but the public expectation was dashed.
Journalists, observers and diplomats patiently waited yesterday at the NEC headquarters for the final result to be announced but to no avails.