DAKAR, Senegal — Senior officers from Sierra Leone’s important opposition social gathering on Sunday accused the nation’s navy of taking pictures stay ammunition and tear fuel into their headquarters, elevating tensions within the small West African nation a day after presidential elections.
Samura Kamara, the presidential candidate of the opposition All Individuals’s Congress, had gathered his supporters, social gathering employees and native officers on the headquarters in Freetown, the capital, to sift by way of knowledge from Saturday’s vote when the navy surrounded the constructing and fired on the crowds gathered exterior, based on Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr of Freetown, who was contained in the constructing.
“There was a festive temper, individuals had been enjoying music and dancing exterior,” Ms. Aki-Sawyerr stated in a phone interview after she had been evacuated from the constructing on Sunday night, coughing from the tear fuel.
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A New York Instances reporter on the scene noticed a truck loaded with troopers carrying semiautomatic weapons, and others holding tear-gas launchers. Experiences of stay ammunition being fired couldn’t instantly confirmed.
Drone footage confirmed the constructing engulfed in smoke, with tear fuel canisters thrown round it.
The Sierra Leonean police stated in a press release on Sunday night that supporters of the A.P.C. social gathering had paraded by way of the streets of Freetown claiming to have received the elections, though outcomes have but to be formally introduced.
“Because the scenario grew to become insufferable, the police needed to hearth tear fuel canisters in order to disperse the gang, which was harassing individuals on the street,” the assertion stated.
Representatives from the federal government or the navy couldn’t be instantly reached for remark. A spokesman for the nation’s nationwide safety company denied that the navy was current on the scene.
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Sierra Leoneans went to the polls on Saturday to elect their subsequent president amid a crippling economic crisis and widespread doubt that both of the 2 favorites — the incumbent, Julius Maada Bio, and Mr. Kamara — can heal the nation’s ills.
Over the previous yr, inflation has reached its highest degree in 20 years. The nationwide foreign money is certainly one of Africa’s weakest. And Sierra Leone, one of many world’s poorest nations, has certainly one of West Africa’s highest youth unemployment price.
Mr. Bio, a former navy chief who participated in two coups in the course of the nation’s civil struggle within the Nineties, was elected president in 2018, beating Mr. Kamara in a decent race. Whereas Mr. Bio is taken into account the favourite on this yr’s vote, a runoff is taken into account seemingly; candidates want 55 % of the vote to safe a victory within the first spherical.
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The unrest on Sunday got here after violent protests over rising prices left greater than two dozen individuals useless final summer time, together with cops, which had raised fears of additional rigidity forward of the vote. On Wednesday, supporters of Mr. Kamara clashed with safety forces in entrance of the social gathering’s headquarters, however election observers stated voting went with out main disturbance on Saturday.
The Carter Middle, which has observers monitoring the election, urged events to not launch knowledge earlier than the nation’s electoral fee. In a press release on Sunday, it additionally expressed issues over the shortage of transparency within the vote tallying.
That afternoon, dozens of individuals had been trapped contained in the headquarters of the opposition social gathering for greater than an hour as they had been about to rejoice provisional leads to a few of Freetown’s districts that appeared to favor Mr. Kamara.
Unsure of what was occurring exterior, and whether or not troopers had penetrated the constructing, Ms. Aki-Sawyerr stated she and about 20 individuals crawled towards Mr. Kamara’s workplace to flee the tear fuel.
Mr. Kamara stated stay rounds had been fired at his workplace’s door, and posted a photograph of what gave the impression to be a bullet gap on social media.
One lady was severely wounded and appeared unresponsive, based on a Reuters reporter who was there. Ms. Aki-Sawyerr stated the lady had been delivered to Mr. Kamara’s workplace.
“I’m in shock,” she stated. “I’m sorry that is occurring to my nation.”
Elian Peltier reported from Dakar, Senegal, and Joseph Johnson from Freetown, Sierra Leone.