SLeone president calls for dialogue, admits ‘logistical limitations’ in electionThu, 03 Aug 2023 17:44:40 GMT

Sierra Leone’s president on Thursday called for “unity” and “dialogue” to overcome deep divisions over the disputed June 24 elections, speaking at the state opening of parliament, which the opposition boycotted.In his address, Julius Maada Bio also admitted to “logistical limitations” during the general elections and said a committee comprising members of civil society and development partners would be set up to review the vote.International observers noted “statistical inconsistencies” and condemned a “lack of transparency” in the ballot count following the elections.A national observation group noted significant discrepancies between voter results for presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.The opposition All People’s Congress (APC) has refused to participate in local or national government, with all but one MP boycotting parliament since it opened for business in July.Observers and the opposition have requested that the electoral commission publish all polling unit results to boost transparency.”The need for dialogue and negotiation resonates with utmost urgency — we must find common ground within the political divides”, Bio said, noting that his party did not win the two-thirds majority needed to pass some types of legislation.”As parliamentarians, it is your duty to embody the spirit of statesmanship and to seek dialogue and common goals, even in the face of differing opinions.”Noting “logistical limitations” identified during the election, Bio said a new committee led by the vice president will review “the prevailing legal framework, related institutional and operational arrangements, and local and international observer missions’ reports”.It will propose reforms in a final report.Bio was in June re-elected for a second five-year term, winning 56 percent of the presidential vote, according to official results.His Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) won 81 of 149 parliamentary seats, compared to 54 for the APC.Fourteen seats were reserved for indirectly elected paramount chief MPs.