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Sierra Leone President Threatens State of Emergency

28 August 2007

Sierra Leone's President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has threatened to declare a state of emergency if violence between rival political factions does not stop.

In a nationally televised address late Monday, the president said the nation had suffered too much to allow more chaos and unrest. He said the government would not hesitate to declare a state of emergency if current violence persists.

Police used tear gas to disperse rioters after opposition and ruling party supporters clashed Sunday and Monday in the capital, Freetown.

Tensions are said to be running high in the West African country ahead of the September 8 presidential run-off election.

The run-off pits Vice President Solomon Berewa of the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party against Ernest Koroma of the opposition All People's Congress Party (APC).

Third-place candidate, Charles Margai, has said he would support Koroma in the run-off.

Koroma garnered 44 percent against Mr. Berewa's 38 percent in the first round of voting August 11.

Koroma's APC party won a majority in parliament, taking 59 of the 112 seats. The ruling party, which dominated the last parliament, won only 43 seats.

Outgoing President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.

The election was the second since Sierra Leone emerged from a brutal 11-year civil war that ended in 2002. It is the first vote since United Nations peacekeepers withdrew two years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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