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Sierra Leone elections: Voters cast their ballots

Voters in Sierra Leone went to the polls today to elect a president, parliament and local councils.

Sierra leone 50th anniversary votingEnlarge
Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma greeting guests after delivering a speech at an April 23, 2011, reception celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sierra Leone's independence. (Tamika Payne/GlobalPost)

The polls are now closed in Sierra Leone's third general elections since the country emerged from an 11-year civil war in 2002 in which 50,000 people died, the BBC reported.

Voters cast their ballots for president, parliament and local councils, the BBC reported.

NGO coalition National Election Watch said despite some delays in polling stations openings, the voting "went well," according to the BBC.

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Incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma is running for reelection against eight candidates, including ex-military leader Julius Maada Bio, BBC News reported.

Koroma, who’s been president since 2007, has expanded health care and paved roads since becoming president in 2007, the Associated Press reported. Leading challenger Bio, who served as head of state for a few months in 1996 before turning the job over to a democratically elected civilian government, is promising the citizens of one of the world’s poorest countries more robust job creation.

Three main parties are vying for other governmental seats: Koroma's All People's Congress (APC), Bio's Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), led by Charles Francis Margai, the son of Sierra Leone's second Prime Minister Albert Margai, the BBC reported.

According to the AP:

Voters said Saturday they wanted to demonstrate just how far Sierra Leone has come over the past decade by holding a transparent and peaceful vote.

“We’ve been through a lot in the last 20 years. Now we’re trying to move forward,” Mannah Kpukumu, 36, a civil servant waiting to vote, told the AP. “We the young guys want employment and to be able to take care of our families.”

Results will be announced within 10 days, the BBC reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/121117/sierra-leone-elections-voters-cast-ballots-koroma