Sierra Leone Counts Presidential Runoff Votes

In Sierra Leone, ballot counting is underway for the presidential runoff election.

Voters went to the polls Saturday.

The current president, Ernest Bai Koroma, is stepping down this year after serving two five-year terms.

Voters cast ballots for the ruling All Peoples Congress Party’s presidential candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, or the Sierra Leone People’s Party presidential candidate, Julius Maada Bio.

This was the second time opposition candidate Bio has run for the country’s top government job. He lost the 2012 election to President Koroma.

Reports said turnout seemed lower than in the first round of voting, possibly because of heavy security precautions. Media reports say driving was banned in some areas, forcing voters to walk to their polling stations.

The runoff vote had been set for Tuesday, but was delayed after a ruling party member filed a court challenge alleging irregularities in the first round and a temporary injunction was issued, stalling preparations.

The high court lifted the injunction early in the week, but the election commission asked for a few more days to prepare.

The new president will have to contend with issues such as rebuilding after the country’s devastating Ebola virus epidemic of 2014-2016, as well as a mudslide in August that killed an estimated 1,000 people in the nation’s capital, Freetown.

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