FREETOWN – Sierra Leone's presidential election results were too close to call after half the votes had been counted on Saturday, with the two front runners neck-and-neck, making a second round likely.
Ex-foreign minister Samura Kamara of the ruling All People's Congress and rival Julius Maada Bio, a former junta leader and candidate of the Sierra Leone People's Party, each had about 43 percent of the ballots cast in Wednesday's poll. Kamara was about 1,500 votes ahead.
The other two main candidates, Kandeh Yumkella, a former United Nations Under-Secretary, and Samuel Sam-Sumana, got 6.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. There were 12 other minor candidates.
A women cast her ballot as part of the general elections, on March 7, 2018 at a polling station in Freetown. More than 3.1 million voters are registered for the polls across the small West African nation. [ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP]
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-fuelled civil war in the 1990s.
A military member shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote during Sierra Leone's general election in Freetown, Sierra Leone March 7, 2018. [REUTERS/Olivia Acland]
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.
A voter casts her ballot at a polling station during Sierra Leone's general election in Freetown, Sierra Leone March 7, 2018. [REUTERS / Olivia Acland]
President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma waves to supporters of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party during a rally ahead of the March 7 presidential election in Makeni, Sierra Leone March 5, 2018. [REUTERS / Olivia Acland]
Anti riot policeman drags away a supporter of Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) during a protest against the police attempting to search the offices of Julius Maada Bio, the presidential candidate for (SLPP) in Freetown, Sierra Leone March 7, 2018. [REUTERS / Olivia Acland]