Enthusiastic crowds rush to polling stations in Sierra Leone as incumbent president bids for re-election against ex-military rival. Sarah Sheffer reports.
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Showing their voting cards, Sierra Leoneans crowd polling stations to vote on Saturday.
They say they want to elect leaders who will bring prosperity to the poor, conflict-scarred West African state, still recovering from a bitter 11-year civil war.
The presidential and parliamentary polls are the third since that conflict ended in 2002.
The vote pits President Ernest Bai Koroma and his ruling All People's Congress against challenger Julius Maada Bio, a former junta leader who represents the Sierra Leone People's Party.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) FREETOWN RESIDENT, NYUNUKU JABBIE, SAYING:
"I feel very happy because we need a change in government. Because we've been getting more suppression - too much - from this current government, so I need change."
The vote is expected to be close.
To win outright, a candidate must gain 55 percent of the vote and the race may well go to a second round.
With rivalry running high, there are concerns a close result could ignite violence.
But a strong consensus also exists among voters that Sierra Leone must never be allowed to fall back into the violence of its brutal civil war.
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