Sierra Leoneans go to the polls on March 7 to elect a new president and a set of legislators and local council representatives.
The process is seen largely as a test for its democratic credentials in the area of periodic elections. The West African nation will also be tasked with making the subregion proud as a hub for peaceful political transition following in the steps of The Gambia, Ghana and Liberia.
As part of our coverage of the process in our Africa Elections slot online, Africanews presents ten top facts as relates to the elections. Africa bids another president goodbye and is set to welcome a new face into its fold all things being equal.
#1 – Fifth straight general election since 1996
This is the fifth straight general election since the return to multi-party democracy – 1996. But the third since the country came out of a civil war in 2002.
#2 – A new president will be elected
The country will definitely welcome a new president.
Incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma is ineligible to stand as per the constitution having served two terms.
#3 – 16 candidates have applied for the presidency
According to the Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission (NEC), 16 parties have filed nominations for the presidential poll.
#4 – A presidential duel between ruling APC and main opposition SLPP
The main presidential contenders of the March 7 poll are Samura Kamara of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)
#5 – Presidential candidate needs 55% to win first round
To win in the first round, a candidate must poll over 55% of valid votes cast. Unlike in parts of Africa where only over 50% is required to win the first round.
#6 – 124 legislative seats up for grabs
The country operates a bi-cameral parliament of 124 legislators. But only 112 are voted for through ballots. The other dozen lawmakers (Paramount Chiefs) are chosen indirectly.
#7 – Key dates in the process include:
January 28, 2018 – NEC released final list of presidential nominations
February 5, 2018 – Campaigns officially started
March 5, 2018 – Campaigning closes
March 7, 2018 – Voters got to the polls
#8 – Persons with disability being catered for
The elections body has ensured that polling centers are friendly to people with disability principally via two ways – the building of ramps where necessary and the use of tactile ballot papers for the visually challenged.
#9 – Two female aspirants on the ballot paper
There are two female aspirants in the presidential race.
Unity Party (UP) candidate: Olufemi Claudius-Cole Josephine, a nurse and Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP) candidate: Gbandi Jemba Ngobeh, a proprietress
#10 – The elections body promises credible process
The Sierra Leone elections body is headed by Mohamed N’fah Alie Conteh and he is assisted by four other commissioners. All things being equal he has the task of declaring the next president.