Cops quell Sierra Leone by-election riot
Freetown – Police used live bullets and tear gas to quell rioting between followers of Sierra Leone’s ruling party and opposition where several people suffered stab wounds, police and witnesses said on Monday.
A witness said members of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) and main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) had begun hurling accusations at each other during a by-election on Sunday in Fourah Bay and the situation worsened with the arrival of top officials from both sides.
“The crowd blocked their entry into the polling booth as they were not residents of the community nor were they registered as voters in the constituency. Then the riot started,” one witness told AFP.
Members of both parties came away with stab wounds and police used live bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd in the town which lies to the east of the capital Freetown, other witnesses said.
“As far as I am concerned, the tension is uncalled for because in a decent democracy, this kind of tension is not good,” police spokesperson Ibrahim Samura told reporters.
“Politics is not a war as youths are moving around with knives attempting to stab others, but we are on top of the situation.”
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on Monday that the SLPP candidate had won the vote in the ward originally held by President Ernest Koroma’s APC.
The clashes come just nine months before national elections and a decade after the end of one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars (1991-2002) which left tens of thousands dead or maimed.