Today, Sierra Leoneans vote in their 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.

Over 3 million registered voters expected to cast their ballot to choose a new leader to replace President Ernest Bai Koroma who 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.

The ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) have always dominated politics since Sierra Leone gained independence from Britain in 1961. But two new political parties upset the political dynamics and support bases of the SLPP and APC when they joined the 2018 presidential race.

Former head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, broke away after the SLPP refused to part ways with Julius Maada Bio, who had lost the 2012 elections to President Koroma.

The Coalition for Change’s (C4C) presidential aspirant, former vice president Samuel Sam-Sumana, took a large chunk of the APC’s northeastern voters after he was sacked by Koroma in 2015.

Although Sam-Sumana’s chances of winning the presidency are not as high as the APC’s Samura Kamara or the SLPP’s Bio, but analysts believe his C4C party and Yumkella’s NGC could both be kingmakers in these elections.

Analysts however believe the race is tight and a winner is difficult to tell before the votes are counted.

The elections are now underway across the country, Sierraloaded reporters are bringing you live updates from the field. Follow our live updates on the elections HERE.

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We believe election results announced at polling units are authentic and documenting them could help put officials and politicians in check. So, let us all contribute to documenting proceedings at our polling units.

Here are steps to take to ensure elections at polling units are not manipulated:

1. Go to your polling unit and get accredited

2. Vote and wait, peacefully, for the result

3. Snap the result once it is pasted and send to us via:

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