Sierra Leone to hold presidential runoff

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According to the results released by the NEC, Samura Kamara, the candidate of the ruling All People's Congress (APC), obtained 1,082,748 votes, or 42.7 percent of the total valid votes cast, while his challenger, Julius Maada Bio of the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) obtained 1,097,482 votes, or 43.3 percent.

Sierra Leone's election to pick outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma's successor will head to a runoff later this month after neither of the two front-runners secured an outright majority in the first round, the electoral commission said on Tuesday.

The National Grand Coalition headed by former United Nations diplomat Kandeh Yumkella, which is hoping to inflict damage on the two-party system, stood at 6.69 percent, the NEC said.

Full results are expected in the next few days.

The APC and Bio's Sierra Leone Peoples Party have alternately ruled Sierra Leone since independence from Britain in 1961.

President Ernest Bai Koroma, who can not run again after consecutive five-year terms, anointed Kamara as his successor for the ruling All Peoples Party (APC).

European Union observers on Friday described the election as "transparent, credible and well-organised" on the whole. The West African nation's economy is recovering from a slump in iron-ore prices and the worst-ever Ebola outbreak that killed thousands of people and isolated the country.