The elections are over. Many sigh with relief, some sigh with loss, others scream with happiness. In fact, the moment the results were announced on the 4th of April, half of the country participated in a 5-day street party. Now, the week and a half or so after the results, things are getting back to normal. No more rally traffic jams, no more seas of green or red, dwindling social media posts with (sometimes hilarious) fake news.
Let’s reflect on the elections. Because even though there were some glitches, the election process went peacefully, a fact worth noting, as it adds to the stability and friendliness of the country.
Thousands of people marched the streets during the weeks that led up to the elections. All political parties were allowed to rally. Very democratic, also a nuisance at times. Sometimes the streets were inaccessible because of the crowd, but it wasn’t that bad at all. Apart from some serious fights that broke out between party supporters (some fatally), the rallies happened as most rallies happen; rowdy, busy, chaotic, but not disastrous.
The voting went peacefully. A total of 3.1 million people cast their votes on the 7th of March. There were no reports of major incidents.
As the results neared, the streets got quieter and quieter, especially at night. It was unclear when they would be announced, and there were plenty of false reports coming out. When the National Electoral Commission (NEC) declared a run-off, an additional two weeks of election time caused the country to slow down even more. The second round took place on the 31st of March, again, peacefully.
On Wednesday the 4th of April 2018, the NEC announced the final results. The elections were won by the SLLP with 51.8% of votes. Retired Brig. Julius Maada Bio, will be inaugurated as the new president of Sierra Leone. Although there are reports of electoral malpractices (which will be investigated) the handing over of power is happening without any issues.
Now, it is not just the writer herself who experienced the elections as peaceful. Sierra Leone has been praised by António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (yes, I’m namedropping), for “the sense of responsibility that they have demonstrated in successfully completing the elections in a peaceful manner.” This adds to the argument that Sierra Leone is a safe and peaceful country, and that there are very little safety concerns, even during volatile times such as elections.