Ex-foreign minister Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress and rival Julius Maada Bio, a former junta leader and candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, each had about 43 percent of the ballots cast in Wednesday’s poll. Kamara was about 1,500 votes ahead.
The other two main candidates, Kandeh Yumkella, a former United Nations Under-Secretary, and Samuel Sam-Sumana, got 6.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. There were 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.