Sierra Leone: Mixed Feelings After NEC Announces Election Runoff

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There seems to be mixed feelings among Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad over final results in the recent concluded general elections in the country.

An investigation revealed that while many people agreed the elections were largely peaceful, others think that some NEC staff had conspired with the ruling party to rig the election; others accused some NEC staff of siding with the opposition SLPP.

Campaign Manager for the SLPP, Dr. Alie Kabba accused NEC Western Area Commissioner, Miatta French of aiding the APC to rig the elections in some parts of the country by inputting the wrong data on the NEC tally machines.

“We urge NEC to investigate the conduct of Miatta French who has been intimidating the staff and this is a matter of great concern to the SLPP,” said Dr. Kabba.

On the other hand, many APC supporters had been accusing the NEC boss, Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh. They alleged that he had rigged the elections in favour of the opposition. Though there was no official accusation by the APC party, their Presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara reminded NEC of their responsibilities in his statement after the announcement of the results.

“To the National Electoral Commission, your constitutional mandate is to ensure that the will of the people is respected in the discharge of your duties. I therefore urge you to carry out your duty diligently and judiciously,” said Kamara.

A spokesperson from NEC however dismissed the allegations, stressing it is  “untrue.”

“We want to assure the general public that any NEC official found wanting for any election malpractice will face the full penalty of the law,” said Albert Massaquoi, NEC spokesperson.  

Soon after Mr. Massaquoi’s assurance, several opposition parties began expressing doubt regarding the integrity of the entire electoral exercise, the results of which came out Tuesday evening.

Alhaji Chief Samuel Sam Sumana leader of the Coalition for Change, dubbed “C4C,” was among a group of oppositions to register his misgiving about the results.

He praised Sierra Leoneans for carrying out a peaceful election on March 7, but his party is not happy with the results announced.

“I was surprised to hear them announce 01 for the C4C in a polling station that I, my mother and other family members voted. However, we are going to use the courts to remedy the situation,” said Sam Sumana.

The run-off, now confirmed, both the ruling APC and the main opposition SLPP are working tirelessly to recruit a large chunk from the other 14 political parties for the run-off, which will be decided by a simple majority  and not on percentage.

This is highly encouraging news for political pundits in Sierra Leone, who have been advocating for a government of national unity.

“A government of national unity will promote national cohesion and ensure that the best human resources available across all political parties are effectively utilized for the development of the country,” said John K. Hassan, a university lecturer.

Meanwhile, high-level talks are ongoing between political parties and their respective members but there are also mixed feelings among members of especially the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and the Coalition for Change (C4C) as to where their respective parties should throw their weight.

While some favor the APC, others prefer the SLPP and this has been described by a political analyst as a “jigsaw puzzle” which can only be fixed after polling day.

“There is no guarantee that Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella and Chief Samuel Sam Sumana can move even 50 percent of their respective voters to the party of their choice in the run-off. Some will prefer not to vote while majority will prefer voting on ethnic or regional lines as we’ve seen in the past elections in the country. I advise them to stay neutral and allow their supporters to vote their choice,” said Hassan.

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Sunshine In Sierra Leone – How the APC Lost The Election

Ruling Party Candidate Refuses to Concede Defeat … Says Party Plans to Take Court Action

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Freetown, Sierra Leone – Losing presidential candidate in the Sierra Leone’s runoff election, Dr. Samura Wilson Mathew Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party is yet to concede defeat to his opposition opponent, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, despite the National Electoral Commission declaring the latter as the president-elect of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Seeking Redress

Kamara was speaking in a national broadcast on Wednesday evening, shortly after the pronouncement of the election results by the NEC Chairman.

“The party will seek redress in the courts of law to have the election result overturned. There were evidences of massive ballot-stuffing, over-voting, fraudulent voter registers and other electoral irregularities,” said Kamara.

Deputy Minister of Sports in the outgoing All People’s Congress (APC) party, Ishmael Al-Sankoh Conteh described the elections as the “most criminal elections ever conducted in the world.”

“APC is a unique opposition with a majority seats in Parliament and controls the capital city Council. This is the first time in the history of modern politics. We are going to regroup and come back again to take our rightful position in governance,” Conteh added.

Party’s Complacency

Meanwhile, supporters partly blame on the party’s complacency and the silent malice among its hierarchy for the loss. While some are of the opinion that it was due to their individual show of recklessness in governance, majority believe that the international community played a pivotal role in gifting the opposition the victory.

“It is as if there was an agreement back in 2007 between the outgoing President and the International community that no political party should rule the country for more than 10 years. I know we are going to lose the elections from the day Ernest Bai Koroma imposed Samura Kamara on us,” said Abdul Bangura, an APC executive member.

Inactive Members

Mariatu Conteh, an APC executive member said 85 percent of the party’s national executive members did not join the campaign trail while most among the 15 percent that joined were never active.

“They did not take part because they thought they or their respective candidates have been deprived of the party’s leadership by the outgoing president. What they failed to realize is the fact that party interest comes before self. Now that they are in the opposition, I’m sure they would learn their lessons the hard way,” said Conteh.

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Former Military Junta Leader Wins Presidency In Sierra Leone

After Swearing In As New President, Julius Maada Bio Promises Unity, Cohesion And Disciplined Leadership… The AfricaPaper’s Correspondent Was There And Reports From Freetown.

Freetown, Sierra Leone – Chief Justice, Abdulai Charm has sworn in new President, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio at the Radison Blu Hotel in Freetown, shortly after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman, Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh declared him winner in a tightly contested poll which both local and international observers have described as “free, fair and credible.”

Ugly Verbal Exchanges and Violence  

Bio was among a group of young soldiers that ousted the All Peoples Congress (APC) in a military coup in 1992 ???  . He won with 1, 319, 406 (51.81 percent) in the March 29 election runoff while his opponent from the ruling party APC, Dr. Samura Kamara secured 1, 227, 171 (48.19 percent) of the votes.

The campaign was characterized by ugly verbal exchanges and sporadic violence on both sides, with the opposition accusing the APC of using police and the military to intimidate them.

Police reported several attacks on candidates and supporters on both sides while international observers reported some “violent issues” on both sides, which saw heightened security measures in the March 31st polls.

Voters New Direction

“This is the dawn of a new era. The people of this great nation have voted to take a new direction. We are honoured and privileged to serve the new government of Sierra Leone. We have only one country, Sierra Leone, and we are all one people,” president elect Bio said shortly after being sworn in.

“Be rest assured that, I will be President of all Sierra Leoneans. I will promote national unity, cohesion and disciplined leadership,” he added.

Bio’s running mate, Dr Juldeh Jalloh was also sworn in as the country’s vice president.

Uphill Task of Rebuilding

The new government faces an uphill task of rebuilding the country’s economy that suffered serious setback after the Ebola epidemic that claimed more than 4,000 lives and a global slump in prices on Iron ore and its varieties, which have left thousands of people jobless. Last year’s mudslide woes also had its toll on the Sierra Leone economy.

National Grand Coalition (NGC) presidential candidate, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella and the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) leader, Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray were among those that have already congratulated the new president.

Time To Develop Sierra Leone

“Congratulations His excellency Julius Maada Bio and team. The people have spoken! Now, we must unite our country and move on! It’s time for Sierra Leone’s development,” Dr Kandeh Yumkella.

The ADP leader also expressed a similar compliment but requested Parliament to be more vigilant for the good of the nation.

Meanwhile, outgoing president, Ernest Bai Koroma and his vice president, Victor Bockarie Foe have on Thursday afternoon welcomed president Julius Maada Bio and his vice president, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh to the State Lodge.Swearing in pic

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Political Turmoil In Southern Sierra Leone

 

 

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An After Election Standoff Left Several Injured And 11 People Arrested In The Southern Capital City Of Bo. Abubakarr Kamara Reports About The Political Chaos In Sierra Leone – A country With A Bitter History Of A Bloody War And Carnage, Ebola, And Mudslides.  

Police in Bo City have confirmed the arrest of 11 people relating to a political standoff on Thursday afternoon between bike riders from the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and the main opposition, Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).

Properties worth millions of Leones including market stalls, booths and shops were reportedly looted and destroyed while there were threats to burn houses at night according to Chernor Bah, an eye witness.

Mr. Bah explained that bike riders known as ‘Tolongbo Riders” for APC’s Dr. Samura Kamara and “Paopa Riders” for Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP had a fracas at the junction of Bojon Street and Fenton Road that afternoon, which was the first day of the runoff campaign nationwide.

He explained that the commotion started when the APC riders started parading the city in their usual red and black regalia and the SLPP riders, not knowing that the day was set for the APC according to the NEC calendar; came out in their numbers.

“The two groups clashed at the roundabout between Fenton Road and Bojon Street. I saw many wounded people but only one of them was in critical condition. He had his guts out due to a stab on the stomach,” said Bah.

Gibril Mohamed Turay, Local Unit Commander (LUC) for Bo West Division said there was no death reported but confirmed that one Abdulai Sheriff was stabbed on the stomach and is in a critical condition at the Bo City Government Hospital. He also confirmed damages to properties worth millions of Leones, but denied reports of threat to burn houses at night.

The LUC blamed NEC officials and the political parties executives in Bo City for failing to popularize the campaign calendar for the run-off elections, which he said, was the cause of the fracas.     

“Had NEC and the political parties gave massive publicity to the campaign calendar, there wouldn’t have been the need for SLPP bike riders to come out on a day that the APC is supposed to campaign in the district. We have 11 people already in custody helping us in our investigations. The situation is now under control and Bo city is once more calm and quiet,” said Turay, LUC.

Bo District PRO for the Bike Riders Union, John Gbabai said most of those involved in the fracas are not members of the union. He blamed politicians, whom he said bought bikes for such people so that they would support their respective political parties.

The Southern Region Office of National Security (ONS) head, Mohamed B. Bangura expressed his dissatisfaction over the way and manner the bike riders had created tension in the district. He admonished all to be calm and assured that security measures would be put in place to avoid future occurrence.  

“Violence can only lead to an endless circle of violence. I implore the leadership of both parties to keep the peace and ensure that we go through the electioneering process peacefully as we have started it. Sierra Leone is all we have and we must all come together to maintain a peaceful environment at all times,” said Bangura.  

Meanwhile, the APC Presidential Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay has accused the SLPP of disturbing APC’s rally in Bo City. He alleged that the SLPP had resorted to intimidation and violent conduct in order to put fear in the minds of their rivals who reside in the opposition’s stronghold of Bo.

“It is our day to campaign in Bo City but the SLPP sent thugs against our people and disrupted our peaceful campaign. We have asked our people to remain calm as the police are investigating the attack,” said Bayraytay.

SLPP Publicity Secretary Lahai Lawrence Leema denied the allegations adding that it is the APC, which is notorious for violence. He said the APC had clashed with almost all political parties in the country and the Bo incident is not an isolated one.
“We are investigating the incident in Bo and will come out with a statement very soon,” said Leema.

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Sierra Leoneans Await Second Election… After Cancellation of 221 Polling Stations in the West African Nation, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Declares March 27 for Run-off Elections

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Chief Commissioner of the Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh has declared March 27 as the date for the presidential run-off elections. He announced after both the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) presidential candidates failed to reach the 55 percent threshold slated in the country’s law books to declare a winner.  

Alie announced that the invalid votes cast for the presidency on the March 7 election was 139,427 while the valid votes cast was 2,537,122. He noted that following the conduct of the polls, the statement of the results were compiled by District Returning Officers and Regional Returning Officers, who transmitted them to him as National Returning Officer according to section 94 of the Public Elections Act 2012.

“The results from 221 polling stations were excluded, including where the votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters (including voters included on a supplementary list). Accordingly, pursuant to section 87 (2) of the Public Elections Act 2012, the results of those polling stations are declared null and void and are not included in this result,” the NEC Chief disclosed.

Though the NEC boss did not disclosed which polling stations’ results were cancelled, speculations are rife that majority of those stations were centers that the main opposition made gains.

According to the final results announced on Tuesday March 13 by the NEC’s Mohamed Nfa Alie, the opposition candidate, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio leads with 1,097,482 votes (43.3 percent) while the ruling party candidate, Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara followed closely with 1,082,748 (42.7 percent).

Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) followed distantly with 174,014 (6.9 percent) and Alhaji Chief Samuel Sam Sumana of the Coalition for Change (C4C) won 87,350 votes (3.5 percent) while the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) candidate, Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray scored 26,704 (1.1 percent).

“In exercise of the powers conferred upon me as Chief Electoral Commissioner/Chairman and National Returning Officer of the National Electoral Commission… I Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh, do hereby declare that since none of the candidates of the parties received 55 percent of the valid votes cast pursuant to section 43 (2) e and f of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, there will be a second election exclusively between the APC Presidential Candidate, Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara and the SLPP Presidential Candidate, Julius Maada Bio. Polling in this second election between the aforementioned candidates will be conducted nationwide on Tuesday March 27,” the NEC boss announced.

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As High Court Judge Vacates Interim Injunction … NEC Set New Date for Run-Off Elections

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Despite High Court Judge, Justice Abdul Rahman Mansaray’s removal of the interim injunction he slammed last Saturday on the conduct of the March 27 presidential run-off election, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) boss, Mohamed Nfa Ali Conteh has announced that the Commission cannot go ahead with the scheduled date due to “logistical delays resulting from the injunction”.

“The run off elections will now be conducted on Saturday, 31st March, 2018. The Commission calls for peaceful conduct and participation of all eligible voters,” the NEC Chairman said.

The interim injunction had been granted last Saturday after lawyer Ibrahim Sorie Koroma – a member of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party filed a petition for alleged voting irregularities in the March 7 elections.

Reading his judgment on Monday afternoon in a jam-packed court room, Justice Mansaray said that after consideration of the laws and legal issues relating to the application and having further considered the public interest at that material time, it is the order of the court that:

“The interim injunction that the 1st and 2nd defendants should be restrained from conducting the March 27th Presidential elections is hereby vacated,” the High Court Judge announced.

In summary, the court granted 9 out of the 10 orders the Plaintiff prayed for. Among the orders granted were; manual counting to be done at the close of polling, manual transfer of results, manual tallying, tallying from districts level to regions before national and the involvement of the national Security Forces and party agents during the entire process.

Mr Bio won the first round with 43.3 percent of the votes while Dr Kamara polled 42.7 percent. The APC party has already won the majority (67 out of the 129 announced seats) in the House of Representatives, with three more left to be announced.

Speaking on the delayed polling, opposition candidate, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio described the move for an injunction as “politically motivated and a delaying tactics by the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party” to remain in power.

“The NEC has been doing its best. I can say they have been 110 percent in my personal estimation of their work. We have had issues with them, we’ve expressed our concerns to them, and they’ve always addressed them,” Mr Bio said.

On his part, ruling party candidate, Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara said he wasn’t taking any chances as he had been going ahead with his preparations for the March 27 polling date and however, noted that indeed there were irregularities during the March 7 elections.

“If the election is postponed, it’s for a good reason – the court knows best. As for the irregularities and especially that of over-voting, the NEC should be held responsible because they are the custodian of voting materials,” Dr Samura said.

Meanwhile, in a press statement issued on Monday evening, the NEC has assured all stakeholders that, it is committed to conducting credible elections.

“Regardless of their ethnic group, religion, gender or physical ability, the NEC will enable the people of Sierra Leone to exercise their constitutional right to participate in political decision-making, in an environment of peace,” the press statement signed by the NEC Chief stated.

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Sierra Leone: High Court Slams Interim Injunction on Runoff Elections

pexels-photo-534204.jpegA High Court Judge, Justice A. R. Mansaray has placed an interim injunction on the March 27 Presidential run-off elections in Sierra Leone restraining the National Electoral Commission (NEC) from conducting the Presidential Elections in Sierra Leone, pending the hearing and determination of the matter on Monday, March 26.

Voters were expected to decide as to who between the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) candidate, Dr Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara and the main opposition, Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) candidate, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, will succeed President Ernest Bai Koroma.

According to the March 24 ruling, the National Electoral Commission should withhold conducting the runoff pending the outcome of the Monday adjournment hearing. The plaintiff, lawyer Ibrahim Sorie Koroma told TheAfricaPaper that he applied for an injunction at the High Courts “for a number of reliefs to sanitise a troubled electoral process, which was threatening the peace and stability of the country.”

Among the reliefs sought are orders to conduct a forensic assessment of the electoral systems of NEC, which have been discredited by the leading political parties that took part in the March 7 elections. He also filed for an injunction on the run-off election scheduled for March 27 pending the processes requested.

“The process sought were to ensure that as a nation, we go into the run-off; if need be, without the suspicion of rigging, which has been the allegation against NEC since the March 7 elections,”  explained lawyer Koroma.

Koroma said he is afraid that if the runoffs are held without a system audit to uncover and repair the lapses and major faults that caused numerous discrepancies in the first rounds, there may be civil strife in Sierra Leone between supporters of the two dominant parties.

The National Electoral Commission has confirmed receipts of an official notice of the interim injunction in a press statement issued shortly after receiving the court order.

“Noting that the matter will return to court on Monday, 26 March, the Commission will temporarily cease all logistical preparations for the run-off,” the press release stated.  

The Press statement called on Sierra Leoneans to be patient as elections institutions carry out their respective duties, in accordance with the Constitution.

“In this time of uncertainty, we look forward to the continued support of the Sierra Leone Police and security sector to secure NEC’s premises, staff and sensitive election materials,” the statement signed by NEC leader, Mohammed N’fah Alie Conteh concluded.

The Chairman and leader of the SLPP, Dr. Prince Harding said that any injunction slammed against conducting the presidential runoff would constitute injustice to the nation.

“The NEC should be independent as they are protected by law to conduct credible, free and fair election. An injunction would be a serious means of undermining their credibility. The election process has already been stressful for Sierra Leoneans because the country is currently at a standstill and an injunction at this moment will be a recipe for chaos in the country,” said Harding .

Meanwhile, the Office of the President has on Thursday, March 22, issued a Public Notice announcing March 27 a public holiday throughout the country.

“For the conduct of the second Presidential elections (run-off) as well as the deferred Ordinary Member of Parliament and Local Government elections,” reads the statement in part.

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Sierra Leone Under-20 Lift AIYT Madam Trophy

Sierra Leone U-20 jubilating with the AIYT Trophy

Sierra Leone Under-20 side Shooting Stars are the winners of the 2010 African International Youth Tournament (AIYT) after beating Ghana Under-20. The Ghanaians were the favourite in the not only because of their past record but also because of their business like attitude in the one week competition, however, this was not to be their day. The final match of the Madam Trophy started after a cultural dance funfair that was capped by Project Fame star, Jocelia Gbondo doing a rendition of the Sierra Leone national anthem. From kickoff Sierra Leone Shooting Stars immediately tried to impose themselves on the match. Starting the match with a purpose of urgency, Sierra Leone forward Abubakarr Crespo Kamara immediately got the first attempt on goal after he stubbornly clung on to a ball beating two men before taking a shot on goal. From then it was continual pressure from the Sierra Leoneans who continued to bear down on the Ghanaians and got three successive corners before the fourth fell on the head of a waiting Baimba Kamara who swiftly headed in – there was a rapturous applause inside the National Stadium as the home crowd celebrated wildly. Ghana break came when Ghanaian Osman Rahim was fouled midway in Sierra Leone half, The Black Satellites Lord Ofusuhene played fast and set Emmanuel Opareh free with a through pass. Opareh wasted no time moved fast and slot past Shooting Stars goalie Mambay Sattie. Shooting Stars captain Khalifa Jabbie complained his team was not ready for the indirect kick but referee ruled goal. The second half started much more slowly and it was not until Shooting Stars Alhassan A. Kamara fired a shot and leaped on a rebound that was saved by the Ghanaian goalkeeper Akwasi Achampong that the game had some life. Sierra Leone kept on pushing as the second half progressed but the Ghanaian goalie Akwasi Achampong was in top form and held firm. The Ghanaians turned the table and almost made it 2-1 but Mambay Satie quickly returned to his post back and intercepted Emmanuel Opareh. Akwasi Achampong rescued Ghana again when he flicked over a goal-bound header from Mohamed Mansaray. Pizarro almost sends the National stadium to raptures when he skilfully turned and took a curving shot from the edge of the 18 yard box. Cruelly for the Ghanaians who had played in three successive days, the game went into extra time and although they tried to put a sense of urgency in the match, they looked visibly fatigued. Shooting Stars once more went on the offensive and Mohamed Mansaray known for his free-kick skills steeped up to and took an indirect kick that flew past the Ghanaian keeper scraping through inside the net, there was a large roar of celebration. A minute to the final whistle of the match Ghana nearly silenced the crowd at the National Stadium as they came very close to equalise when a shot from inside the box was seemingly entering the net but suddenly hit a Shooting Stars defender and changed direction, it was the last attack of the match. The best player of the tournament award was given to Foday Samura of Shooting Stars whilst the best goalkeeper award was given to FC Johansen’s Mahdi Khalil. The best behaved/Fairplay team award went to the runners up of the tournament Ghana’s Black Satellites. Mohamed Mansaray won the highest goal scorer award for scoring four goals. The 2009 African player of the year Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast and Chelsea was also given an award for supporting AIYT.

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Ghana Qualify as South Africa Amajitas and Host team Fight to a Stalemate

Ghana Under-20 is the first team to progress to the Semi Finals in the battle to lift the AIYT Madam Trophy in Freetown. The reigning world youth champions Ghana showed their class as they outperformed Arsenal legend Patrick Viera’s Diambars Academy from Senegal – the Ghanaian Under-20 side took the lead in the 7th minute when Osman Rahim was played clear from a build-up play. Striker Osman Rahim maintained his cool and slotted in from near post to take the lead in a match which the Ghanaians knew they had to win to ensure automatic qualifications to the next stage.

Diambars Academy Papa Mousa Sow had earlier failed to take the lead as he shot wide in front of goal. The Ghanaians started the match with all urgency and pelted the Senegalese goal with several shots after their first goal, it was clear that they were looking to double their lead. Their next break came on the 38th Minute of the first half when Lord Ofosuhene collected a through pass and quickly reacted by powering a heavy shot from inside the 18 yard box, the young Ghanaian striker celebrated with Asamoah Gyan like dance as the Ghanaians supporters at the National Stadium in Freetown joined in. With all due credits to the Senegalese, they never gave up and continue to fight in a match which many thought was over. They had several misses in the second half and were finally given some sense of hope when winger Mamoudou was brought down inside the box as he raced clear towards goal, the referee never hesitated and pointed his hands to the penalty spot.

Diambars Academy Papa Mousa Sow confidently moved forward and sent the Ghanaian goal keeper the wrong way making it 2-1. Diambars Academy should have equalised soon after, but the Ghanaians stood their ground as the Senegalese poured forward for a goal.

Ghana responded by breaking on a counter in the 88th minutes of the match with the long ball being sent to Emmanuel Opareh who drifted in to the corner post and fired in to make it 3-1. With six goals in two matches conceding one goal only, the Ghanaians are surely dominating this tournament for the moment. Diambars Academy coach Boubacarr Gakaejea conceded that his team was outplayed “We didn’t have a good game, Ghana is good team. They are very strong, our team gave their best but the Ghanaians are tough.” On his part, Ghana coach Orlando Wellington said his team almost lost concentration but were lucky not to be punished by the Senegalese.

The first game of the Match day four saw FC Johansen vs South Africa Under-20 battling it out to a 0-0 draw, there was no goal in this match but it was definitely filled with entertaining football and goalkeeper heroics as FC Johansen goalie, Mehdi Khalil captivated the applause of the fans and even the their South African opponents. His saves were instrumental in ensuring the tie ends 0-0 and as South Africa’s Amajitas Tshepo Gumede skilfully cuts in from the right angle and fed in an empty net he could not believe how FC Johansen goalie Mehdi Khalil flew in flicked out with his arms.

Another attack from the South Africans which led to another magnificent save from Lucky Baloyi powered in a goal bound shot from the left angle that was acrobatically intercepted by Mehdi Khalil.

FC Johansen were outplayed in midfield and their influential midfield sensation Ahmed Hassan was out of touch and never got into a match that the South Africans dominated.

FC Johansen had their most clear chance when attacking midfielder Charles Kamara had a miss of the tournament contender as he was set clear inside the six yard box, he bungled up and Amajitas goalie Ronwell Williams quickly returned from behind him and grabbed the goal-bound goal.  Charles Kamara could not believe his misfortune as he lay down cutting a frustrated figure. The match was surely filled with entertaining football but devoid of goal and the South African coach Khabo Zondo acknowledged afterwards and told pressmen that he needed to work with his boys on scoring goals. He however said that despite the lack of goals he is happy for the exposure of his boys, “We struggled to play at some point because some part of the pitch was wet and that affected us a bit. The humidity is high but we are trying to adapt,” he said.

Coach Lamin Bangura said FC Johansen goalie deserved to be praised and that they are looking forward in getting the three points in their next tie with Ghana.

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African International Youth Tournament Kicks off With Victory For Sierra Leone

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The much awaited African International Youth tournament kicked off on Saturday in a glittering opening ceremony that saw series of performances from the Black and White group in a Michael Jackson type performance. Project Fame star Jocelia Gbondo and the Ayoub International School kids led the tournament’s own version of Waka Waka rendition, the African Dance Group added spice to an opening gig that got the audience at the National Stadium dancing and getting caught in the flair and glee of a befitting opening ceremony.

Not even the one minute clapping in honour of the late Issa Koroma a.k.a. Madam in which honour this year’s tournament is named and European football enthusiast Papa Jacques dampened the spirit at the National Stadium. it was as if the achievements of the late pair was rather celebrated than mourned. A brief statement from the organisers welcomed all and dedicated the tournament to Issa Koroma a.k.a. Madam and Jocelia Gbondo gave a rendition of the Sierra Leone national anthem.

After the glitterati of a dazzling opening ceremony it was back to real football action and Sierra Leone Under-20 took to the pitch against defending champions Barrack Young Controllers of Liberia. It was a match that was played with intensity and hard tackling that forced the referee to dish out several caution and eventually a sending off for a Liberian defender.

The match which started brightly saw both sides battling in a largely midfield play in which BYC Matthew Dede and Sierra Leone Under-20 captain Khalifa Jabbie fought hard to control a match which neither side was able to take hold of.

The first clear attempt on goal came in the 10th minute and Liberian goalkeeper was in a very good position to save Khalifa Jabbie’s 25 yard screamer. In  a match that was playes with tough and hard tackling, it was never going to take too long before the referee dipped his hands in his pocket and in the 13 minute BYC number 15 Alpha T James was the first to be cautioned after a hard tackle on Sierra Leone’s Sulaiman Kamara.

Abubakarr Crespo Kamara should have taken the lead in the first half but squandered clear chance on goal and could not figure out what should have been a goal.

Careless defending from Sierra Leone defender Baimba Kamara gave the Liberians a perfect opportunity to take the lead but BYC Andrew F. Swaray failed to make use of the chance and shot wide.

The deadlock was however broken on the 60th minute when Abubakarr Crespo Kamara took the lead for Sierra Leone Leone Under-20 from a well deserved goal after Idrissa Sesay flicked in a fine cross from the right hand of the pitch, Crespo wasted no time and jumped and headed into goal.

Abubakarr Crespo Kamara was on fire and immediately made another miss. The Liberians was by then loosing touch in the match and BYC James P. Nalatee receives 2nd yellow and marching orders after a hard tackling offense. Newly substituted Sierra Leone attacker Lamin Samura misses a tap in from close range, but the second goal was never far away as the Sierra Leoneans scored again from a tussling ball in the six yard box. Alhaji Kamara drilled in the loose ball after the ball lipped-off from the hands of the BYC FC goalie Mulbah Urey. Celebration erupts in the national stadium and it was clear that the match was over.

After the match Sierra Leone Under-20 coach looked at the brighter side and acknowledged that despite the rough and hard-tackling match both teams had to endure his side fully deserved the victory. His Liberian counterpart Abraham Sese disagreed saying the referee was horrible, “There was too much lapses by the referee, you see him take two players out and bring in again, I hate to talk about referees but bad refereeing contributed to us loosing the match. Playing the host team is really difficult and the referee didn’t help,” said a worried Sese.

One thing everyone here can agree though is that the AIYT Madam Trophy is up and running everyone seems to be looking forward to the many exciting encounters coming up.

Teams Line-Up

Sierra Leone Under-20: Mambay Sartie, Baimba Kamara, Abu Sesay, Ibrahim A.S.  Kamara, Gibril L. Fofanah, Khalifa Jabbie-captain, Sulaiman Kamara (Osman Kamara ‘79’), Idrissa Sesay (Lansana Kamara ‘69’) Alhaji Kamara, Alhassan A. Kamara (Lamin Suma ‘85’) and Mohamed Mansaray.

Head Coach: Alimamy Turay

Barrack Young Controllers FC: Mulbah Q. Urey, Jacob Goe (Lamin M. Jabateh ‘59’), James L. Powell, Jusufu Y. Hargrave, Alpha T. James, Myers F. Garlo, Oueenjay S. Continanta, Sylvester D. Neufville, Claudius S. Morris (Samuel G. Johnson ‘60’), Kpah Sherman and Andrew F. Swaray (James P. Nalatee ‘46’)

Head Coach: Abraham Sese-H

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