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Sierra Leone picks new leader, Ernest Bai Koroma leaves the stage

This is the fifth straight general election since return to multi – party democracy – 1996. But the third since the country came out of a civil war in 2002. The country will definitely welcome a new president. Incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma is ineligible to stand as per the constitution having served two terms.

According to the Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission (NEC) 16 parties have filed nominations for the presidential poll. 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.

Ernest Bai Koroma won a second and final term as president of Sierra Leone in November 2012, in the first elections the country has held without UN supervision since the end of the civil war in 2001.

His convincing win in the first round over main contender and former military ruler Julius Maada Bio confirms Sierra Leone’s transition from failed state to democracy with a fast-growing economy, although the president still faces the challenge of widespread poverty.

The opposition questioned the results of the simultaneous parliamentary election, although international observers said they were conducted fairly.

Mr. Koroma was first elected in 2007 on a promise to counter corruption and the mismanagement of state resources. His All People’s Congress also won a majority in parliamentary elections that year.

President Koroma, an insurance broker by profession, has pursued free-market policies and encouraged foreign investment to rebuild the damage caused by the civil war.

His predecessor Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the now-opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ended the war by inviting in first Nigerian and then British troops to drive out rebel groups. He stepped down in 2007 after serving the maximum two permitted consecutive terms.

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