Voters in Sierra Leone return to polls for presidential run-off

Sierra Leone voters used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: teleSUR]

Voters in Sierra Leone flocked to the polls on Saturday to elect new president in a hotly contested run-off vote between opposition leader Julius Maada Bio and ruling party candidate Samura Kamara.

Mr. Bio, of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), won a razor-thin victory in the first round of voting on March 7 with 43.3 per cent, while his rival Kamara received 42.7 per cent.

Mr. Kamara, 67, the candidate of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) promised continuity and economic recovery, while Mr. Bio pledged to end corruption and offer free education.

A run-off election was set for March 31 as no candidate reached the 55 per cent of votes needed to win outright.

Meanwhile, some 3.18 million Sierra Leoneans are eligible to vote.

President Ernest Bai Koroma is leaving office after serving two five-year terms, the constitutional limit, but inundated with claims of corruption and mismanagement from the opposition.

Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown was calm on Saturday, with few cars on the road and police outside polling stations to prevent any disruptions.

“All we need is just peaceful elections and I hope in the name of God, everything is going to be calm and fine today so that we can go on with our normal activities,” Yainkain Kargbo, a trader and mother of four, said.

According to her, the people of Sierra Leone are tired of waiting for the election to be over.

Diamond-rich but poverty-stricken Sierra Leone was ravaged by years of brutal civil war in the 1990s, only to be hit hard by the deadly ebola virus in 2014.

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