By Clarence Roy-Macaulay | AP March 26 at 4:19 PM
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court on Monday approved the election commission’s request to delay Tuesday’s runoff presidential vote until the weekend after the lifting of an interim injunction that had stalled preparations.
The commission applied for more time once the West African nation’s high court vacated the injunction that was granted Saturday after a member of the ruling party filed a petition citing irregularities in the first round on March 7. The opposition called the petition a delay tactic.
The runoff election is now set for Saturday.
Tensions have risen in the nation of 7 million people after neither the ruling All Peoples Congress party candidate nor the leading opposition candidate won the first round outright. The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, which took 43.3 percent to the ruling party’s 42.7 in the first round, has not held the presidency since 2007.
Opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military leader, on Sunday said his party would not accept a delay in the vote. He also accused President Ernest Bai Koroma and the ruling party of “pushing us to the point of chaos in the country.” Koroma has served two terms and is barred by the constitution from running again.
Bio, who is making his second bid for the presidency after losing in 2012, stands to pick up votes from the 14 candidates eliminated in the first round.
(First published by The Washington Post, 3/26/2018)
Sierra Leone held a general election on Wednesday, March 7th to elect a new president, parliament, and local councils. None of the presidential candidates received 55% of the vote as required by election law, so March 27, 2018 has been set for the runoff date. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on March 13 that former foreign affairs minister, Samura Kamara will face Julius Maada Bio, a former military head of state.
Kamara who leads the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) came in second after final results of the March 7 polls were declared. Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) won the first round with close to 1.1 million votes representing 43%.
The other two main candidates Kandeh Yumkella, a former United Nations Under-Secretary, and Samuel Sam-Sumana got 6.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. There were 12 other minor candidates.
President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office. The vote to replace him has largely been peaceful, a triumph for a country that lived through a brutal, diamond-fueled civil war in the 1990s.
The winner faces a huge task trying to kick start the West African country’s economy, which after recovering from the war has been ravaged by low prices for iron ore, its main export, and an Ebola epidemic.
Mercy Hospital celebrated its 10 year anniversary on October 17, 2017! A few of Mercy's key staff shared their thoughts about the hospital's past and future:
Dr. Kanneh, Chief Medical Officer “I feel delighted and proud to be part of the Mercy team on the 10th anniversary of Mercy Hospital. It has been really challenging over the years, challenges that we have faced with courage, determination, and hard work and have been able to succeed. We have proposed as a way of expanding Mercy Hospital to higher heights, by constructing an operating theatre. This is ongoing and thankfully it will be completed soon. Then we will have the opportunity of treating maternity cases who would otherwise be referred outside to other hospitals. Other surgical cases that we have turned away previously will also be able to be treated at our hospital. That will bring Mercy Hospital up to an even greater level. We appreciate and thank our partners and UMC annual conference for providing this facility to us and we cannot thank them enough for this wonderful duration period of the hospital.”
Jinnah Lahai, Hospital Administrator “I am happy that we have made it to 10 years and that I am part of this team. I am excited about Mercy becoming even more equipped and standardized as a hospital and with the new OR becoming one of the most effective hospitals in Sierra Leone. We are really on a good footing to become a very well-known hospital in Sierra Leone.“
Augusta Kpanabum, Head Matron “I just want to thank the almighty God for making us be alive to see Mercy’s ten years. We give thanks to God and the donors. We really want to appreciate all of the partners. I have been at Mercy for 3 years and Mercy has really made a big step forward already since I came. I am anxious to see the next step of Mercy with the opening of the OR. It is going to really make our work so much more effective to help those in the community. We can be very proud of having competent staff for the smooth running of the hospital. The outreach department has really improved and we have two wonderful CHOs that are working very hard to improve Mercy. We pray that the good Lord will continue to strengthen us all to continue the work.
George Mbayo, Lab Supervisor “I thank God so much for my life being at Mercy Hospital since the opening. I am so proud of Mercy, it is like my baby. In the beginning of Mercy onto now, things are still moving in the right direction. There has been much improvement. Our plans and strategies have been there from the beginning and are really being implemented well. A vision that I want the hospital to move towards is getting an x-ray and dental unit to add up to our departments. The OR is about to finish so we are excited for that and the possibility of adding more staff to increase the abilities of Mercy."
We are so proud of our dedicated staff, and deeply grateful to the many generous donors who have helped Mercy become an essential resource for excellent and compassionate health care in the Bo community and surrounding villages.
Bishop John Yambasu made the following statement to the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone regarding the flooding and mudslide in Freetown that occurred on August 14, in which hundreds lost their lives and thousands more were displaced. Bishop Yambasu is the United Methodist Bishop of Sierra Leone and President of the CCSL.
In the early hours of Monday August 14, 2017, parts of the capital city Freetown were overtaken by massive flooding and mud slides that led to the loss of hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property. Communities worst affected are Regent, and Kamayama in the west and Kissy and Waterloo in the East end of the city. In the last 24 hours, the Council of Churches has received many phone calls, e-mails and letters from our many partners around the world expressing their love and prayers for us at yet another very difficult time in our history of tragedies as a nation.
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone expresses our thanks and appreciation to our many partners around the world who have made phone calls, e-mails and letters to share their concern, love and prayers for us.
As the largest Christian organization in the country, the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone laments the present spate of disaster in Freetown and mourns the death of hundreds of poor and innocent people who lost their lives in this needless and preventable disaster. In the same vein, we empathize with the thousands of people including mainly women and children who survived the disaster and now live under life threatening conditions with no place they could call home.
All Sierra Leoneans are aware that the entire city of Freetown lies below the slopes of surrounding hills that span east to west. Year after year, there is massive destruction of natural vegetation for farming, fuel wood and for building houses. In addition, stone mining has become a huge profession in the city. Through these activities, the soil is laid bare making it vulnerable to excessive run off water and mud slides in the raining season. Freetown goes through this every year with people losing their lives.
This year's flooding in many parts of the city and mud slide in the Regent community in the western part of the city is unprecedented. Never in the history of the city have we experienced such magnitude of sickening and horrifying disaster with houses buried, whole families missing and bodies discovered with dismembered parts. We continue to receive staggering information on the number of people that have so far died as a result of the flood and mudslide. However we are of the opinion that up to one thousand people or more may have already died with about 600 people still unaccounted for. Some of the unaccounted are still buried under rubble while others have been swept away by the floods.
Up to 5 PM yesterday Tuesday, volunteer rescue teams were still recovering and transporting corpses to the mortuary in the limited ambulances available. At the nation’s premier Connaught hospital in Freetown, hundreds of corpses are piled at the mortuary for public view and identification.
The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone note with gratitude the several good efforts made by volunteer rescue youth groups and civil societies who placed their lives on the line rescuing people and recovering bodies from the rubble and the flood waters. These gallant humanitarian efforts by our youth deserve recognition.
We recognize the great contribution made by the Red Cross to provide vehicles to convey the dead to the mortuary and survivors to the nearest health facilities. We also recognize and acknowledge the role played by the Government of Sierra Leone, the media, and civil society.
We give thanks to God for those who survived the disaster, and pray for the many others who lost their lives. As a nation, our most urgent responsibility now is to be in solidarity with the thousands of those who survived the disaster.
We therefore call on government and the City Council of Freetown as a matter of urgency;
More especially, our hearts go to families and all those who survived the disaster. We stand by them and support them with our prayers, presence and assistance to help them go through this period of pain, trauma and grief with dignity. I encourage you all not to be afraid of the future. The Lord is with you. (Numbers 14:9)
Long live our beloved Sierra Leone. Long live “peace, freedom and justice” in our Land.
BISHOP JOHN K. YAMBASU
PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN SIERRA LEONE