Excitement and hope as Sierra Leone votes

Source: BBC
Date: 7th-march-2018 Time:  4:53:16 pm

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Today, Sierra Leoneans have flocked to the polls to choose not only their new president, but new MPs and local councillors.

The BBC's Umaru Fofana is in Freetown, keeping an eye on developments.

“I’m excited, it’s very good to have done my rights as a citizen," one voter tells the BBC.

"We expect good things to happen to this country for a change. We need good education, good health system, clean water, keep the city clean and find jobs for the youth so they have something to do and are responsible citizens of Sierra Leone.”

Her words are echoed by others we speak to: Education and health facilities are top of the list of things people in Freetown want their new leader to sort out.

“Good healthcare, education, social services, electricity, clean water, our priorities," a man says.

"We want the next government to deliver on these promises.”

So far, there have been no reports of any major incidents, and observers say the process is proceeding smoothly.

Former Liberian President Amos Sawyer, who heads the regional ECOWAS Observer Group, said he had reason to be "cautiously optimistic".

"We have about 60 observers around the country, what they are seeing is also encouraging. That’s not to say we’re not expecting a bump or two here and there along the way, but thus far things are encouraging,” he said.

Results will be announced within a week - and if none of the 16 presidential candidates gets 55% of the votes, the top two will go to the polls for a second time in a runoff, which will be held two weeks after final official results are announced.

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