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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Sierra Leone's Kabbah urges unity
Kabbah supporters in Freetown
Kabbah's supporters have been dancing in the streets
Following his landslide election victory Sierra Leone's incumbent President, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, has been sworn in as leader for another five years.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Kabbah made a speech appealing for national unity in order to rebuild the West African state after 10 years of civil war.


I appeal to you whatever your party affiliation or party symbol or ideology to join me in building a new coalition for national development

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Referring to the peaceful nature of the elections Mr Kabbah said that "one of the most far-reaching decisions in the country's current history" had been made and he pledged to battle corruption and hunger, and improve human rights.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the capital, Freetown, singing and dancing in a jubilant celebration of Mr Kabbah's re-election.

UN assistance

Electoral officials said Mr Kabbah won 70% of the vote, against 22% for his nearest challenger, Ernest Koroma of the All People's Congress.

"I appeal to you whatever your party affiliation or party symbol or ideology to join me in building a new coalition for national development," said Mr Kabbah, whose Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) also won a strong majority in parliament.

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
Kabbah campaigned as a peacemaker

It is hoped the elections, held with considerable assistance from a United Nations peacekeeping force, could mark the end of 10 years of conflict and signal a smooth transition from war to democracy.

Sierra Leone's electoral commissioner, Walter Nichols, said there had been delays in getting the final results of Tuesday's elections because staff employed by the commission had "been agitating" for their pay.

It is understood that, at one point, some commission staff were prevented from leaving their offices by angry election workers.

Rebels trounced

The BBC's Mark Doyle in Sierra Leone says Mr Kabbah successfully portrayed himself as the candidate who had brought peace to the country.

In the decade-long brutal civil war, the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and some other militia groups made a practice of chopping off the limbs of their opponents.

Presidential results
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah: 70.6%
Ernest Koroma: 22.35%
Alimamy Pallo Bangura (former rebel): 1.7%

The RUF has now transformed itself into a political party but its candidate, Alimamy Pallo Bangura, took only 1.7 % of the vote.

The RUFP failed to take a single seat in the new parliament.

President Kabbah's party, the Sierra Leone Peoples' Party, won 83 of the 112 seats while the former ruling All People's Congress took 27 and the remaining two went to the party of a one-time junta leader, Johnny Paul Koroma.

'Free and fair'

Mr Kabbah, who was a UN diplomat for 20 years before going into politics, succeeded in encouraging a UN peacekeeping force to intervene in 1999 and also won strong military backing from the former colonial power, Britain.

Our correspondent says the British intervention was hugely popular with Sierra Leoneans, and this may have helped Mr Kabbah to electoral victory.

International observers have endorsed the election in Sierra Leone as largely free and fair.

Observers from the Commonwealth, European Union and the United States Carter Center said that, although there were logistical problems, these were not enough to affect the overall result.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sanjay Dasgupta
"People danced in the streets"
The BBC's Mark Doyle reports from Freetown
"The weekend street parties only stopped when a tropical storm broke"

Campaign diary

Peaceful poll

Background

FORUM
See also:

14 May 02 | Africa
11 May 02 | Africa
10 May 02 | Africa
28 Mar 02 | Africa
20 May 02 | Africa
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