By Emmanuel Oloniruha
A High Court sitting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has vacated its earlier interim injunction restraining the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and its Chief Electoral Commissioner from conducting the Tuesday’s presidential run-off election in the country.
The Court, presided over by Justice A. R. Mansaray J., vacated the order in its ruling delivered on Monday.
The court had on Saturday granted an interim injunction restraining Chief Electoral Commissioner, the NEC; the 1st and 2nd defendants respectively, from conducting the Presidential Run-off on March 27.
The court ordered that the run off poll should be put on hold pending the hearing of a petition by the plaintiff and a private lawyer, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma of Port Loko District, Northern Province, over alleged electoral malpractices during March 7 inconclusive election.
Delivering his ruling, Mansaray said that ruling was delivered having considered the application by the plaintiff and the relevant laws.
“Having read the original notice motion dated march 21, 2018 and having considered the laws and legal issues relating to the application herein further considered the public interest at the material time it is the order of this honourable court that:
“The interim injunction that the 1st and 2nd defendants should be restrained from conducting the March 27 presidential election is hereby vacated.
“The 1st and 2nd defendants shall ensure that both political parties’ agents to the run-off election are given Temper Evidence Envelop (TEE) containing signed copies of the election results at each polling station nationwide.’’
The court also ruled that the result from the districts and or regions be manually transferred to the 2nd defendants’ Tally Centre and/or headquarters in a transparent and all inclusive manner.
It also added that the political parties’ accredited agents shall monitor the transportation and transfer of all sensitive polling manner.
Koroma, the plaintiff, had on March 22 filed a petition before the court in Freetown, seeking an injunction to suspend the March 27 Presidential run-off election between the candidates of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party and the ruling All Peoples Congress.
The lawyer, apart from seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining the run-off vote, is also praying the High Court to order a recount of all the 2.6 million votes cast during the March 7 general elections.
He is also seeking that the defendants should also be restrained from further announcing or publishing the Presidential, Parliamentary or Local Council Elections results pending the hearing and determination of his application.
The plaintiff, represented by another lawyer Lansan Dumbuya, in the application filed on Tuesday, is also seeking an Order to conduct a forensic audit on the internal systems and the entire electioneering system conducted by NEC on March 7.
The Chairman of NEC, Mohamad Conteh, in a statement he issued on Saturday said that the Commission would temporarily cease all logistical preparations for the run-off” till Monday when the matter will return to court.
The Tuesday run-off will be between the opposition leader Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party and Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress who led the first round of the election, but could not secure the mandated 55 per cent of votes cast.
The President of Sierra Leone is elected using a modified two-round system, with a candidate having to receive more than 55 per cent of the vote in the first round to be elected.