Sierra Leone's National Electoral Commission (NEC) has claimed that police are interfering with preparations for the country's second-round presidential vote, scheduled for Tuesday, March 27. NEC spokespeople have claimed that police have "interrogated" NEC staff on NEC premises in recent days. Police, for their part, have said that some 200 election-related crimes have been committed nationwide, some by NEC staff, that they are currently investigating.
The police are reportedly working to "remove from within its ranks" NEC staff members who are likely to pose a threat to the integrity of the electoral process. The investigations are likely to foment distrust among the political opposition in the coming days, who may assert that the police are undermining the electoral process in favor of the ruing All People's Congress (APC) party, who received the second-most votes in the first electoral round on March 7. Heightened security measures and an increase in societal unrest are expected in Sierra Leone ahead of the March 27 elections.
On March 13, the NEC confirmed that no candidate secured an outright majority in the first round of the presidential election that took place on March 7. According to the NEC, Julius Maada Bio, from the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party, received the most votes with 43.3 percent. Samura Kamara, the candidate from the ruling APC, won 42.7 percent.
Individuals in Sierra Leone, particularly in Freetown, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, refrain from any politically sensitive discussions in public, and avoid all demonstrations and polling stations as a precaution. Follow any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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