The top six candidates in Sierra Leone’s March 7 presidential elections held a debate on Thursday evening in the capital Freetown.
The debate offered the candidates the opportunity to woo voters at a time when political campaigning across the West African country is at its peak.
The elections body has disclosed that there are a total of sixteen parties that had filed to contest the presidency. The other ten parties had earlier attempted to place an injunction on the debate citing discrimination.
All six parties had their registered candidates showing up at the event. Questions fielded by ace journalist who works for the BBC centered around human development, the economy and national cohesion.
The parties that participated included the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) led by immediate past foreign affairs minister, Samura Kamara. Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) main opposition led by Rtd Brig. Gen. Julius Maada Bio – a former military Head of State.
The other four were the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) – breakaway from ruling APC (led by Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray). Coalition for Change (C4C) – another APC breakaway led by Samuel Sam – Sumana – a former Vice President sacked by outgoing Koroma.
The National Grand Coalition (NGC) – a breakaway from main opposition SLPP led by Kandeh Yumkella, former U.N. senior official and Citizens Democratic Party (CDP) led by Musa Tarawally, a businessman.
Electoral campaigning was officially declared open by the Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission (NEC) on February 5, 2018.
The country is set to welcome a new leader as incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma leaves office after two terms. It is the fifth straight vote since return to multi-party elections but the third after the end of a civil war in 2002.