The two leading candidates – Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress and Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party – are in a virtual dead heat, just as they were at the end of the first round of voting earlier this month.
This comes after the National Electoral Commission announced a new date for run-off after Bio won by just 15,000 votes way below the mandatory 55% required for victory, in a country with 3.1 million eligible voters.
“The race is too close to call,” said Edmond Abu, director of the Native Consortium and Research Center.
Saturday’s voting in the West African country was proceeding as planned, according to Momoh Sesay, an observer with the ruling APC party in the capital, Freetown.
More than 11,100 voting stations opened across the country at 0700 GMT but initially, at least, turnout appeared lower than the first round.
Polls are scheduled to close at 1700 GMT but results aren’t expected until early next week
“It makes me proud to vote for the president I need to vote for,” said Momoh Kamala, a 36-year-old cleaner in Freetown.
The diamond-rich Kono district in the east of the country is expected to be the key to victory for whoever wins, according to Abu, the political expert.
The APC filed a legal complaint alleging that some ballots had been tampered with, forcing a delay in the final round of voting, which was originally scheduled for last Tuesday.