News 14 march — 15:12

Sierra Leone heads into election runoff

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Candidates of Sierra Leone’s ruling and main opposition parties are heading for a presidential runoff after March 7 elections failed to produce a first-round winner, Anadolu Agency reports.

Chief electoral commissioner Mohamed N’Fah Alie Conteh said Tuesday that opposition candidate and former military junta leader Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led the first round with 1,097,482 votes or 43.3 percent. He was trailed by ruling All People’s Party (APC) candidate Samura Kamara, who received 1,084,748 votes or 42.7 percent.

According to the country’s constitution, a president can be elected if he or she secures 55 percent of the total valid vote cast.

Since neither candidate reached the 55 percent threshold, a runoff has been set for March 27.

Some 221 polling stations were nullified after voter turnout there exceeded 100 percent, suggesting ballot stuffing.

The hotly contested presidential race has left bitter memories in the minds of supporters of the two parties with minor confrontations reported in other parts of the country.

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