There are strong indications that Sierra Leone may be heading for a second round of polls after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone’s NEC released 50% of the processed votes of March 7 presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.
The declared presidential election results were too close after half the votes had been counted on Saturday, with the two front candidates running neck-to-neck, making a second round likely.
According to the official results, the candidate of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) Dr Samura Kamara led with 43.20% followed by rtd Brig. Julius Maada Bio of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) 43.09%, while Kabdeh Yimkellah of the National Grand Alliance (NGC) is third with 6.69% of the processed votes. There were 12 other candidates from other minor parties.
NEC registered some 3.17 million voters in the country’s 16 administrative Districts, out of which some 1.3 million votes have been processed.
NEC chair Mohamed N’fah Alie-Conteh said that the remaining results would be released as soon as possible.
He said that if none of the 16 candidates contesting the presidency gains 55% of the votes cast in the first round, the two frontrunners will go for the run-off balloting two weeks after declaration of the first round results.
The winner will be the nation’s fifth president and will replace outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Some 3.17 million registered Sierra Leoneans also voted to elect 124 contested seats in the 144-member parliament from among 789 candidates.
President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office and the vote to replace him has largely been peaceful, a triumph for a country that lived through a brutal, diamond-fueled civil war in the 1990s.
But the winner faces a huge task trying to kick start the West African country’s economy, which after recovering from the war has been ravaged by low prices for iron ore, its main export, and an Ebola epidemic.