Vote counting commences in keenly contested Sierra Leone general election

Vote counting commences in keenly contested Sierra Leone general election

Voters are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Saturday general elections in Sierra Leone following a tense campaign dominated by clashes.

Counting of votes has started in polling units where casting of ballots took place.

Many people came out to cast their ballot despite the late arrival of electoral officials in many regions, according to the BBC.

Voters also elected members of parliament and local councils as part of efforts to keep the country running politically.

There had been some anxiety about potential conflicts in the run-up to the election.

Earlier on Wednesday, the main opposition party said that one of its supporters was shot dead by police, which the authorities rejected.

According to an electoral commission spokesman, about 3.4 million people are registered to vote, with 52.4 percent of them being under the age of 35.

Thirteen contenders, including incumbent Julius Maada Bio, are running for the presidency, with a devastating economic crisis, which triggered fatal protests last year.

President Julius Maada Bio, of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is contesting for a second five-year term.

His main rival among the 12 challengers is a 72-year old Dr Samura Kamara, of the All People’s Congress (APC).

The contest is a repeat of the race in 2018, which saw Mr Bio narrowly win following a second round run-off.

The elections are being closely followed in West Africa, a region recently dominated by military takeovers and insurgencies.

To emerge winner of the presidential election in Sierra Leone, the leading candidate must receive 55% of the votes cast; otherwise, a run-off election will be held between the two candidates receiving the most votes.

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