Sierra Leone: Voters head to polls to elect new president

Sierra Leone: Voters head to polls to elect new president

Sierra Leone: Voters head to polls to elect new president

Living conditions in Sierra Leone remain poor after the Ebola virus ravaged the country four years ago and a mudslide occurred in the capital of Freetown last year, which took hundreds of lives.

Electoral Observation Mission sent to Sierra Leone general elections is evaluating, along with the authorities of that country, the preparations for March 8 elections. President Ernest Bai Koroma is not running, after serving for two five-year terms.

These are men to be respect, not some rats somewhere. But it is the first the government is presiding over without total support from the worldwide community.

The SLPP has retained the same candidate, Julius Maada Bio, who lost to Koroma in 2012.

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"(Voters) are yearning for real change", said Julius Spencer, the NGC's communications chief.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, President of ECONEC governing board and Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria also led a Needs Assessment Mission to Sierra Leone in 2017, which resulted in the pledge of logistical support by Nigeria, towards ensuring successful March 7 elections and the consolidation of peace and democracy in the country.

The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR), a Freetown-based think tank, said in a report that voters were showing a "growing willingness... to consider policy proposals over ethnic considerations". Before the deployment of observers, in line with its mandate to support member States holding elections, ECOWAS has also provided financial support after undertaking a pre-election fact-finding mission to Sierra Leone, and led a Joint ECOWAS/AU/UN High-Level Mission with the goal of ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page for credible elections and peaceful transfer of political power in the country.

Isolated clashes have been reported between APC and SLPP supporters during the month-long campaign, with minor injuries and material damage.

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Police are enforcing a ban on non-official vehicles.

Meanwhile, outgoing president Koroma's increasing reliance on China for infrastructure, including a new airport and adjoining toll road, have raised concerns that Beijing is seeking to keep the APC in power.

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