MONROVIA - President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone has threatened to impose a state of emergency ahead of the second round of presidential elections run-off if violence between supporters of the ruling and opposition parties continued.
In a broadcast on state radio, outgoing president Kabbah admonished Sierra Leoneans to resist what he described as "political violence" in all forms and allow the election process to proceed uninterrupted.
"All those responsible for the violence must be prepared for the consequences," he warned, stressing that his government would not hesitate to deal with troublemakers.
Political observers say Kabbah can impose a state of emergency if the state is under threat, but that would require approval by parliament, which has been dissolved.
Presidential run-off elections are scheduled for September 6.
Violent clashes have occurred in parts of the country between supporters of Ernest Bai Koroma's opposition All People's Congress (APC) and vice-president Solomon Berewa's Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) in Waterloo, near Freetown, police have confirmed.
Police inspector in Kono District, Sidiki Koroma, said a curfew was in force there to prevent the violence from spreading and undermining the forthcoming poll. Calm had returned to Kono following police intervention, he added.
Meanwhile, Victor Rider, a spokesman for the SLPP, blamed the violence on overzealous APC partisans bent on tarnishing the reputation of the SLPP.
He welcomed Kabbah's warning on a state of emergency, saying it was a "step in the right direction to get politicians to understand the fragile situation facing the country emerging from years of civil war". The APC has made no official comment on the reported violence as campaigning continues. - Sapa-dpa