Sierra Leone will on March 27 hold a run-off vote to choose the country’s next president after none of the frontrunners was able to secure an absolute majority in the first round.
Julius Maada Bio, a former military coup leader won the first round of the presidential election with 43.3 percent of votes. This was short of the 55% he needed to avoid a run-off.
Samura Kamara of the incumbent All Peoples Congress (APC) took 42.7 percent, the election commission announced on Tuesday. The two would now face each other in the run-off election in two weeks.
Bio’s party, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the APC have been the dominant parties in the country and have ruled consecutively since independence from Britain in 1961. Bio winning this election means it will be the second time he has ruled the country, after ousting Valentine Strasser, also a military ruler, and briefly heading a military junta in 1996.
He, however, stepped aside three months later for the democratically elected Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. Interestingly, his rival now in the upcoming run-off, Kamara was his finance minister during the short-lived military junta in 1996.
President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office. His office had been riddled by an economic crisis caused by a collapse in iron ore prices, an Ebola epidemic in 2014 and last year’s mudslide in the capital Freetown that killed 500 people.