Sierra Leone is a republic with an executive president and a multi-party system of government with a 124-seat parliament (112 elected members and 12 paramount chiefs). On August 11, 2007, Sierra Leone held nationwide presidential and parliamentary elections for the first time since the departure of UN peacekeepers.
In the parliamentary elections, the National Election Commission reported the All People's Congress (APC) won a parliamentary majority taking 59 of 112 seats, while the ruling Sierra Leone's People's Party (SLPP) took 43 seats. The People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) won 10 seats in Parliament. In addition to their peaceful administration, the 2007 parliamentary elections were notable for the return to a constituency-based system, as called for in the 1991 constitution. In preparation for the elections, Sierra Leone redrew parliament's constituency boundaries for the first time since 1985.
According to the NEC official results of the August 11 presidential election, APC presidential candidate Ernest Koroma won 44.3 percent of the total 1,839,208 votes cast, while former Vice President and SLPP presidential candidate, Solomon Berewa, finished with 38.9 percent. PMDC presidential candidate Charles Margai placed third receiving 13.9 of the vote. Because none of the candidates won the 55 percent of the vote needed to win in the first round, a run-off election was held on September 8, 2007. The two leading candidates, former Vice President Solomon Berewa of the SLPP and Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC contest the second round. On September 17 Sierra Leone's National Election Commission declared Ernest Bai Koroma the winner with 54.6 percent of the vote. President Koroma was sworn in later that day at the Sierra Leone Statehouse.
Sierra Leone's judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, High Court of Justice, and magistrate courts. The president appoints and parliament approves justices for the three courts. Local chieftaincy courts administer customary law with lay judges; appeals from these lower courts are heard by the superior courts. Judicial presence outside the capital district remains limited, which contributes to excessive delays in the justice system.
Although magistrate courts function in all 12 judicial districts, magistrates appointed to those courts did not reside there permanently and complained that they had insufficient resources to do their job. Justices of the peace or customary law partially fill the gap. Civil rights and religious freedom are respected. A critical press continues to operate, although journalists and editors are occasionally arrested for publishing articles the government considers inflammatory.
In 2000 the Government of Sierra Leone promulgated the Anti-Corruption Act to combat endemic corruption. The Anti Corruption Commission has not been able to secure convictions of high-level government officials, but has worked to raise national awareness of the problem and build in safeguards in "corruption hotspot" ministries.
The basic unit of local government outside the Western Area has generally been the chiefdom, headed by a paramount chief, who is elected for a life term. In May 2004, however, the first local government elections in 32 years were held in 311 wards nationwide. There are now 12 district councils and 5 town councils outside the Western Area. The Western Area has a rural area council and a city council for Freetown, the nation's capital.
The local councils are gradually assuming responsibility for functions previously carried out by the central government. As devolution progresses, chiefdom and council authorities are starting to work together to collect taxes. While district and town councils are responsible for service delivery, chiefdom authorities maintain their own infrastructure of police and courts, which are also funded by local taxes. Nationwide local elections are scheduled for July 15, 2008.
From: US fact Records at www.state.gov/p/af/ci/sl/