Sierra Leone kicks off general elections

Election officials start counting votes at a voting station in Freetown on June 24, 2023 during the presidential vote. (PHOTO / AFP)

FREETOWN – Sierra Leone kicks off its presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections Saturday, with more than 3.3 million registered voters casting their ballots across the country.

Voters queued in over 11,000 polling stations that were opened from 7 am to 5 pm.  A total of 13 registered political parties including the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the main opposition All People's Congress (APC) participated in the elections, which are observed by both local and international observers in all polling stations.

President Julius Maada Bio is seeking a second and final term as he is contesting against the main opposition presidential candidate Samura Kamara whom he defeated in the 2018 elections

President Julius Maada Bio is seeking a second and final term as he is contesting against the main opposition presidential candidate Samura Kamara whom he defeated in the 2018 elections.

To be declared the winner of the presidential race, the leading presidential candidate must secure 55 percent of the votes cast, otherwise, a second round of voting will be held between the two candidates.

Counting would start after the polls are closed at 5 p.m. with the official results expected within a week.

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This is the fifth election Sierra Leone has conducted since the civil war that ravaged the country. Tens of thousands of people were killed during the civil war from 1991 to 2002.