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Rivals clash as Sierra Leone poll runoff looms

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Rival supporters clashed in Freetown on Saturday after early results from Sierra Leone’s presidential election indicated a runoff would be needed with no candidate set to secure the 55% required to win outright.

With incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma standing down after two terms, his All Peoples Congress (APC) candidate Samura Kamara was just leading Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), based on 25% of returns from the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

The NEC gave former foreign minister Kamara a near 45% share of the vote so far against 42% for former general Bio in Wednesday’s poll.

European Union observers on Friday described the election as “transparent, credible and well-organised,” but noted sporadic “intimidation and violence,” concerns echoed by the Freetown-based Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI).

The early results triggered unrest as supporters of the two main parties clashed in the capital’s central business district, leading police to make several arrests.

“Just after the announcement of the results by NEC people started to celebrate, which angered other onlookers,” trader Abubakar Sesay said.

“I was forced to close my business as everyone was running from the scene. Many shops closed due to the panic,” Sesay said, adding that he witnessed stone-throwing.

Kandeh Yumkella, a former high-ranked member of the SLPP now standing for a National Grand Coalition (NGC), was in third place with 6.6%  according to the early figures.

The share of his votes in the runoff could prove decisive in determining the eventual winner in the West African country where corruption is rife.

Wednesday’s presidential, parliamentary and local council elections had passed off largely peacefully despite a police raid on Bio’s residence.

The raid followed accusations of vote “hacking” despite Sierra Leone using a manual voting system.

The NEC had called on Friday for patience in the count, saying it will prioritize accuracy over speed.

A runoff poll must take place two weeks after final results are unveiled.

The APC had said Friday it had a “comfortable lead,” causing the SLPP to accuse it of “endangering public order and national security”.

The SLPP claimed the APC was preparing to release “fake presidential results” but remained confident of victory.

The two parties have dominated Sierra Leone’s politics since independence in 1961, but third parties are hoping to make their mark after mounting charismatic campaigns.

The NGC, whose message of reform has struck a chord with educated urban voters, said Friday it had identified “a number of serious irregularities in the voting process which will in some areas require immediate recounts”.

The export-dependent economy of a mineral-rich but impoverished country is in a dire state following the 2014-16 Ebola crisis and a commodity price slump that has driven away foreign investors.

Motherland News

Nigerian President Buhari Warns Ballot box snatchers to value their lives

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President Muhammadu Buhari has warned those planning to snatch ballot boxes during the elections to desist or pay with his or her life if caught.



President Buhari who stated this at the opening session of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Caucus meeting in Abuja, on Monday, said that such act would be the last unlawful act the person will be brought to book.

Meanwhile, the governors of Imo, Rochas Okorocha and Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun were conspicuously absent at the meeting.

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Buhari who said he is confident that he has garnered enough supporters having gone round the country to campaign, urged party members to reassure their constituents to come out and vote on the rescheduled dates.

While urging party agents to watch out for the party interests at the polling units the president said that he has directed security agencies to identify hot spots and be ready to move should they suspect any attempts to cause problems by thugs across the country irrespective of party affiliations.

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Health & Lifestyle

DR Congo blame Unending Ebola Outbreak on Violence , Community Mistrust.

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DR Congo Ministry of Health spokesperson Jessica Ilunga has declared that violence and community mistrust have continued to hamper all efforts to control and end the fresh Ebola outbreak, which started Aug. 1.



Though according to the World Health Organization the number of new Ebola cases has dropped slightly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as there are 33% fewer cases to date in February compared with the same time period in December per STAT’s Helen Branswell, but some experts warn Axios that there remain signs that this outbreak is far from over.

Meanwhile, some experts warn that, that doesn’t mean the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak on record is yet under control, and in fact it could simply be moving to new areas of the sprawling country.

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Johns Hopkins’ public health expert Jennifer Nuzzo maintains there are several reasons people should continue to view this outbreak as a cause for concern.

However, Nuzzo said Congo needs more than money from the international community and the U.S. in particular. Safety concerns have largely caused the CDC to limit its Ebola experts to the capital city of Kinshasa, where some have returned after being evacuated during an uptick in election-related violence, Nuzzo added that Now is the time for the U.S. to send them into the field.

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