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Koroma strengthens hand in Sierra Leone parliament

FREETOWN, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Sierra Leone’s ruling All People’s Congress party secured a majority in parliament, results of the Nov. 17 election published late on Friday showed.

The party of President Ernest Bai Koroma now controls 67 of the 124 seats in parliament, gaining eight seats.

The main opposition, Sierra Leone People’s Party took 42 seats, losing three. The SLPP has said the election was fraudulent and that it will boycott parliament.

Koroma took 58.7 percent of votes in the presidential election that handed him a second term, results announced on Nov. 23 showed, enough to secure a first round victory over SLPP candidate, former junta leader Julius Maada Bio.

He will oversee billions of dollars of investment in the aid-dependent country’s resources that include gold, diamonds, oil and iron ore.

Iron-ore shipments by British companies African Minerals and London Mining are expected to buoy the economy to 20 percent growth this year, below a forecast of more than 50 percent but still one of the world’s fastest rates.

A 100-strong observer mission from the European Union said the advantages of incumbency meant there was no level playing field for the election but said it was generally free and fair.

The SLPP is demanding an international investigation into the election.

Banja Tejan-Sie, the SLPP’s national secretary general, said on Saturday it was not yet certain whether the party’s members of parliament would attend next week’s swearing-in ceremony.

“We do not distinguish between the elections,” he said, referring to the presidential, parliamentary and local council polls. “We have concerns about all the results.”