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S.Leone: Court takes seats from 10 opposition lawmakers

Lawmakers lose seats as result of ruling party petition, but lawmakers vow to appeal ruling

Alpha Kamara  | 31.05.2019 - Update : 31.05.2019
S.Leone: Court takes seats from 10 opposition lawmakers

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone

In an unprecedented move, 10 main opposition lawmakers of Sierra Leone’s parliament have lost their seats as the result of a court ruling, pushing the chamber back into the ruling party’s control.

The move followed an election petition filed by the ruling People’s Party SLPP against 16 opposition MPs on allegations of vote rigging, violence, and improperly getting civil servants' salaries while seeking elected office.

With today’s verdict, the ruling SLPP now has 58 seats, while the opposition APC party has 57, with two by-elections due to be rerun.

Previously the opposition APC party had a majority of 63 seats, while the ruling People's Party has held the presidency since last year.

The ruling led to tension in the streets of the capital Freetown, as police fired tear gas around the offices of the opposition APC.

Karamoh Kabbah of the opposition claimed that the party spokesman, Cornelius Deveaux, and some other party members had been beaten by police, leaving some injured.

Africanus Sesay, a lawyer defending the disqualified MPs, told national broadcaster SLBC that they would appeal the decision and go to the Supreme Court because the courts lack the jurisdiction.

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