Sierra Leone head for presidential polls runoff

Wednesday, 14 Mar, 2018

Former South Africa President Kgalema Motlanthe (second from left) headed the AU EOM in Sierra Leone.

Candidates of Sierra Leone's ruling and main opposition parties are heading for a presidential runoff after March 7 elections failed to produce a first-round victor.

Opposition leader Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People's Party led the field of 16 candidates with 43.3 percent in the first round of the vote, held last Wednesday, according to results announced by the commission in the capital Freetown.

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

The threshold to win in the first round was 55%, and the final results released Tuesday were slightly delayed by recounts in some areas.

The APC and Bio's Sierra Leone Peoples Party have alternately ruled Sierra Leone since independence from Britain in 1961.

Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office.

Kolle Yemkulla of National Grand Coalition polled 174,014 votes; Kamaraimba Mansaray, candidate of the Alliance Democratic Party, secured 26,704 votes; while Musa Tarawally of Citizens' Democratic Party got 11,493.

Early results triggered unrest as supporters of the two main parties clashed in Freetown's central business district, leading to several arrests. The West African nation's economy is recovering from a slump in iron-ore prices and the worst-ever Ebola outbreak that killed thousands of people and isolated the country.