Sierra Leone Votes for President

Sierra Leone

Voters in Sierra Leone are heading to the polls to pick their next leader in a presidential runoff delayed over allegations of fraud.

Voting is peaceful and the turnout is lower than in the first round on 7 March.

The opposition called the court challenge a delaying tactic and its candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military leader, accused President Ernest Bai Koroma and the ruling party of "pushing us to the point of chaos in the country".

The APC filed a legal complaint alleging that some ballots had been tampered with, forcing a delay in the final round of voting, which was originally scheduled for last Tuesday. The high court lifted the injunction early this week and the election commission asked for a few more days to prepare.

The 53-year-old was part of a group of soldiers who overthrew the government in 1992.

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

The run-up to the election has been characterized by terse verbal exchanges and occasional violence. In the first round, the two candidates were separated by under 15,000 votes.

"The safety and security of Sierra Leone is in our hands". More than three million people are eligible to vote.

Koroma took office in 2007 in the shadow of a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002.

Koroma's decade-long tenure was marked by the 2014-16 Ebola crisis, which killed nearly 4,000 people, and a mudslide that struck the capital Freetown in 2017, killing hundreds. Voting runs from 0700 GMT to 1700 GMT, but the first results are expected to come in at the start of next week.

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