Over three million registered voters are voting to elect Sierra Leone’s next president, members of the parliament and local council officials on Wednesday.
Queuing started early in most of the the 7,200 polling centres before the opening at 07:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT).
A total of 16 candidates are contesting for the presidency after President Ernest Koroma of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) completed his second and final term.
President Koroma, who came into power in 2007, has been credited for stabilising electricity supply in most parts of the country and infrastructural development, including building of roads and the promotion of human rights.
But the opposition has accused him of paying less attention to the economy, job creation, education and health.
During his last term, the country was hit by both the Ebola virus disease and the deadly mudslide of August 14, 2017 that left thousands dead.
The three key contenders are former Finance Minister Dr. Samura Kamara of the APC party, former military strongman Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone People’s Party and former United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s chief Dr. Kandeh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition.
Observers have described the elections as “keenly contested”.
Former Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama is heading the Commonwealth observers group. He has called for calm and has facilitated the signing of a peace communique among the political parties’ leaders.
Women staged a “Peace March” on Tuesday to call for peace after minor clashes were reported in some areas.
N’Fah Alie Conteh, the chief election officer called the polls “credible” and said the results would be announced in percentages.