JOHANNESBURG, March 12 – A run-off vote, following Sierre Leone’s presidential elections last week, seems almost certain with opposition challenger Julius Maada Bio managing to score 43.4 percent of the vote to the 42.6 percent garnered by the ruling party’s Samura Kamara – an edge of less than 15,000 votes.
Fifty five percent is required before a first-round winner can be declared.
The National Grand Coalitions, which had been hoping to challenge the two-party system, limped in with only 6.69 percent.
Those were the statistics according to Sierre Leone’s National Election Commission (NEC) on Sunday after a tally of votes from 75 percent of the West African country’s polling stations across each province.
However, the full results of last Wednesday’s elections will be determined in the next few days when counting is finalised.
The elections were described as “transparent, credible and well-organised” overall by European Union observers, despite sporadic “intimidation and violence.”
In the early stages of the elections, supporters from the two main parties clashed in the central business district of the capital Freetown, leading to several arrests.
Kamara was appointed President Ernest Bai Koroma’s successor of the ruling All People’s Party (APC) as the incumbent can’t run again after consecutive five-year terms.
The APC and Bio’s Sierra Leone People’s Party have alternately ruled Sierra Leone since independence from Britain in 1961.
A run-off poll must take place two weeks after final results are unveiled.