15 November 2012

Sierra Leoneans Elect Next President, Parliament, Tomorrow

President Ernest Bai Koroma is seeking re-election on the APC Party ticket.

The people of Sierra Leone go to the polls tomorrow Saturday November 17 to elect a new President, Parliament and local councils. The general election will be the country's third since the 1991-2002 civil war that killed more than 50,000 people, the BBC reported.

The National Electoral Commission says it has registered more than 2.5 million voters for the poll - out of a population of about six million. President Ernest Bai Koroma has invited the International Criminal Court to join the observer mission in a bid to deter violence. He faces former junta leader, Julius Maada Bio, in polls widely seen as a test of the country's recovery, a decade after a devastating civil war. Julius Maada Bio's party manifesto promises a renegotiation of all mineral deals as well as Sierra Leone's mining code, which he says have failed to benefit ordinary citizens.

According to Reuters news agency, Koroma, who has been in power since 2007, is favoured to win but has drawn fire from rivals who claim he has done little to root out graft. The Anti-Corruption Commission has failed to send a single person to jail under his rule. Defending his record recently, the President said he should not be doing the job of the judiciary, prosecuting and convicting people.

Nine candidates are running for President, but the favourite is President Ernest Bai Koroma. A former insurance broker, Ernest Bai Koroma, 59, is seeking re-election on the All People's Congress, APC, ticket. He is credited with stimulating economic growth and infrastructure development. However, his critics accuse him of squandering an opportunity for national unity by forming a government dominated by people from his home region.

The other front runner is retired Brigadier-General Julius Maada Bio of the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party, SLPP. He ruled Sierra Leone between January and March 1996 following a coup. He later moved to the US after retiring from the military. Charles Francis Margai is candidate for the People's Movement for Democratic Change, PMDC. The former lawyer is the son of Sierra Leone's second Prime Minister, Albert Margai and the nephew of the country's first Premier, Sir Milton Margai. He previously served as a minister in the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

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