The presidential candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) has taken the lead with more than half of the presidential result announced so far by the National Electoral Commission.
With 75% of the result announced by Chief Electoral Commissioner Mohamed N'fah Alie Conteh yesterday, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is on 848, 438 votes, representing 43.33% while his closest rival, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) is pegged on 833, 519, at 42.6%.
14,919 votes separate the two leading contenders of the oldest political parties in the presidential election which took place last Wednesday, March 7.
Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition is in a distant third with 136, 09 votes representing 6.95%, followed by Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana of the Coalition for Change with 67, 132 votes, which is 3.43% of the provisional 75% votes count.
When the first 25% of the presidential result was announced early on Saturday, Dr. Samura Kamara was slightly ahead of the SLPP presidential candidate by 17, 581 votes, but saw his lead shrink to just 1,426 votes when 50% of the result was announced late in the evening.
According to the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Nfa Alie Conteh, the progressive result announced so far are partial and do not represent the complete outcome of the closely fought election.
He confirmed that recounts are underway in some relevant district offices, adding that their five regional tally centers continue to process result forms.
"While majority of these results forms have now been entered for the presidential election, NEC processes have identified some forms that required examination before been accepted as the genuine results," he disclosed.
He continued further that these processes integrated into their IT system to ensure integrity and accuracy of the final results and that the tally process is open to party candidates, agents, observers and civil society organisations.
Mr. Conteh stated that the Public Elections Act of 2012 allows the commission to take any necessary steps in examining these results, which include recounting of ballot papers from affected polling stations.
"This process will take time. We will take any necessary steps to ensure the accuracy of results. We are also aware of allegations against our own staff and we are taking it very seriously. We continue to monitor the tally process at every stage," he said.
While assuring that the commission is more than prepared in the event there is a run-off, the Chief Electoral Commissioner assured that the final result for the presidential election will be announced as soon as possible, probably today or latest Tuesday.
Meanwhile, with 75% of valid votes cast announced, it looks highly likely that the two leading aspirants of the SLPP and APC - Julius Maada Bio and Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara - will face-off in a crucial run-off in a fortnight from the date of the final result.