After years of economic crisis, Sierra Leone Sierra hopes election can move country past its misfortunes

Total of 16 candidates are contesting for presidency after President Koroma completed his second and final term

Voters headed to polling stations across the country of seven million to pick a successor for President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is stepping down after two five-year terms, in line with the country’s constitution.

By midday long queues had formed under the boiling sun in the capital, Freetown, as party leaders cast their votes and one party complained of irregularities in the northern provinces.

"So far voting has been peaceful and I'm satisfied with the process," said Julius Maada Bio, presidential candidate for the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP).

"I will only accept a free, fair and credible election," he told journalists at the barracks where the former military leader voted.

President Ernest Bai Koroma, who cannot run again after consecutive five-year terms, has anointed former foreign minister Samura Kamara as his successor for the ruling All Peoples Party (APC).

Kamara's running mate Chernor Maju Bah said the vote seemed "well organised" and reports were "all good" as he voted in the capital.

The APC and SLPP have dominated Sierra Leone's politics since independence in 1961.

The export-dependent economy of the mineral-rich but impoverished country is in a dire state following the 2014-16 Ebola crisis and a commodity price slump that has driven away foreign investors.

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