General elections in Sierra Leone: voters flock en masse

Sierra Leoneans began this Wednesday, March 7 to elect their new president, a position that should not escape one of the two parties that dominated politics for decades, unless a “third man” comes shake things up.

There are many people in the polls, since an hour before the opening of the offices, a hundred people were waiting in front of the grates of the school “Vine Memorial” in Congo Cross.

The first voter had been there since two o’clock in the morning. There were also some moments of tension. Some agents are a little overwhelmed by the influx. Office opening delays were noted as well as a lack of equipment, but overall no serious incidents were reported at midday.

The Head of the European Union’s observation mission confirmed this information, underlining the “remarkable enthusiasm” of the voters and congratulating them for their “patience”.

In the streets of Freetown this morning, no traffic jams since the authorities have banned all traffic on the day of the vote. A few scooters are present, soldiers at checkpoints, and everywhere these queues that are growing from hour to hour. The participation rate could therefore be quite high.

Voters must fill in 4 different ballots, since they must elect their mayors, their councilors, their deputies and especially their next president.

Education, infrastructure, health, price control but especially two words come back in all mouths. The first is “peace”, the last elections went rather smoothly, but the memory of the civil war – 120,000 deaths in 11 years – remains very much alive.

The other word is “change”, which could intervene via the renewal of leaders, because there is a “reconfiguration” of the political spectrum with the emergence of new “dissenting” figures of traditional parties.

Sixteen candidates are in the running including two women, but the three favorites are Samura Kamara, for the ruling party, the APC, the current president’s dolphin, Julius Maada Bio for the SLPP, the main opposition party as well as a dissident of the same party: Kandeh Yumkella.

The latter, often presented as, the third man or the “alternative” to traditional bipartisanship, which is influenced by ethnicity and geography, could create surprise or at least play the “kingmakers” in the event of a second tower.

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