Sierra Leone head for presidential polls

Sierra Leone head for presidential polls

Rtd Julius Maada Bio of the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and Dr Samura Kamara of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) will go for presidential run-off vote in two weeks' time having emerged frontrunners in the fiercely contested March 7 elections.

The opposition challenger in Sierra Leone's presidential election edged ahead of the ruling party candidate by fewer than 15,000 votes, according to new partial results released on Sunday.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up across the country as political alliances with smaller parties have begun in earnest.

Some 3.17 voters were registered in the country with an estimated seven million population.

The two parties dominate Sierra Leone's politics and have ruled alternately since independence from the United Kingdom in 1961.

Sierra Leone's election to pick outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma's successor will head to a runoff later this month after neither of the two front-runners secured an outright majority in the first round, the electoral commission said on Tuesday.

Early results triggered unrest as supporters of the two main parties clashed in Freetown's central business district, leading to several arrests.

The export-dependent economy of the mineral-rich but impoverished West African country is in a dire state following the 2014-16 Ebola crisis.

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