Sierra Leone’s presidential election results were too close to call after three quarters of the votes had been counted on Sunday, with the two frontrunners neck-and-neck, making a second round highly likely.
The main opposition leader Julius Maada Bio, candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, took a slight lead with 43.3 percent of the vote, against ruling All People’s Congress candidate and ex-foreign minister Samura Kamara’s 42.6 percent.
Bio, a former junta leader, was about 15,000 votes ahead.
The other two main candidates – Kandeh Yumkella, a former United Nations Under-Secretary, and Samuel Sam-Sumana – were on 7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
There are 12 other minor candidates.
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.
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.
Additional reporting by Christo Johnson; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Mark Potter