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Sierra Leone's Long Delayed Census Ignites Political Row

The count was seen as a key test of Sierra Leone\'s recovery from the Ebola epidemic that killed almost 4,000 people in the west African nation.

Published: 06th April 2016 02:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th April 2016 02:51 AM   |  A+A-

By AFP

FREETOWN: Sierra Leone's census long delayed by the Ebola outbreak has ignited a furious political row with the main opposition accusing the ruling party of creating an unfair electoral advantage.

Provisional census figures of Sierra Leone's population released last week showed that the country's population has grown by 42 percent from 4.97 million in 2004 to 7.07 million in 2015, with traditionally pro-government areas showing faster growth.

The data from the census "will be used for the allocation of national funds and services," said chief statistician Mohamed Koroma, whose office conducted the census on December 5-8 last year.

The main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) has criticised the census claiming it was "dominated at various stages by unqualified (ruling) All People's Congress (APC) loyalists," saying the SLPP "wholeheartedly and unreservedly rejected the result."

Senior APC official Cornelius Deveneaux said the party was "not worried if the SLPP boycotts the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and local council elections," which are not slated for this year.

"This is another political gimmick aimed at painting a negative picture about anything good about Sierra Leone," Deveneaux added, calling the data "credible".

The UN resident coordinator for the census Gabriel Rugalema meanwhile praised the project and how quickly the complex data analysis had been done.

"Normally it takes six to eight months to release the preliminary results but the government has done it in less than four months," he said.

Koroma said the provisional results were not expected to change significantly before the official figures were released in December, which could deepen the political dispute.

The count was seen as a key test of Sierra Leone's recovery from the Ebola epidemic that killed almost 4,000 people in the west African nation.

The $10.5 million survey was postponed twice because of the outbreak.



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