[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Landmark election in Sierra Leone
Woman casting vote in Freetown
Fears of disruption were largely unfounded
Voters in Sierra Leone have turned out in high numbers to elect a new president and members of parliament, five years after the end of civil war.

Seven candidates are hoping to replace President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, who is stepping down after serving two terms.

There were lengthy queues across the country, with some voters queuing up in hours before the polls opened.

The previous election in 2002, held soon after the decade-long war ended, was organised by the United Nations.

This time an electoral commission organised the election, and early indications are that it went well, reports the BBC's Will Ross in Freetown.

The large turnout of voters is a sign of the population's determination to see Sierra Leone turn its back on years of instability and a civil war, he adds.

Ruling party candidate Solomon Berewa was unable to vote during the morning after being obstructed by people impatient to cast their ballots, AFP news agency reported. He returned in the afternoon.

One female voter told the BBC: "I came out to vote for good governance, democracy, and progress in Sierra Leone."

A male voter said: "I've just voted. It's wonderful. This is my second time of voting, and I thank God for that because it's my right."

In rural areas, voting was described as peaceful and orderly.

The front-runners

Seven candidates are standing in the election. Three are considered front-runners.

1787: Set up as a freed slaves settlement which became a British colony
1991: 10-year civil war began
50,000 people killed in the conflict
Thousands more had limbs chopped off
2002: Post-war elections organised by United Nations
2005, 17,000 UN peacekeepers left
This poll run by a new electoral commission
2.6m voters
566 parliamentary candidates
112 parliamentary seats
Seven presidential contenders
- APC's Ernest Bai Koroma
- PMDC's Charles Margai
- SLPP's Solomon Berewa

Mr Berewa, who is vice-president of the governing Sierra Leone People's Party, faces a challenge from Ernest Bai Koroma, of the All People's Congress, which was in power for two decades leading up to the civil war.

The emergence of a new political party led by a former minister, Charles Margai, will also make it harder for any candidate to secure 55% of the vote in order to avoid a run-off, correspondents say.

In addition, more than 500 candidates are vying for just over 100 parliamentary seats.

About 2.6 million of the country's five million people were registered to vote.

Since British troops intervened seven years ago to help end the war, aid money has poured in to Sierra Leone but reconstruction has been slow.

Some analysts warn that the conditions which helped fuel the war have started to re-emerge - especially the high unemployment and corruption.

Heavy rain hampered deliveries of voting material in some areas, but on the whole the lead-up to the election was peaceful.

Sierra Leoneans keen to vote


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific