FREETOWN — The US ambassador to Sierra Leone said Tuesday a run-off election was likely as the west African country's two main parties both have strong support ahead of a November 17 presidential poll.
"There is a possibility for a run-off poll in November's presidential election apparently between the (ruling) All People's Congress party and the (main opposition) Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP)," Michael Owen said.
"Both parties appear to have good support," he said in an interview on local radio, adding that he was "convinced the elections will be peaceful".
President Ernest Koroma is seeking a second term in the election which is being held alongside a parliamentary poll. His main challenger is opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio, a former military ruler.
The American government has provided $4 million for raising awareness and electoral security programmes in the west African nation which is holding its third election since the end of an 11-year civil war in 2002 which claimed some 120,000 lives.
Political rallies are in full swing throughout the country with nine presidential hopefuls and 586 parliamentary candidates wooing voters on the campaign trail.
Foreign observers have begun arriving in Sierra Leone. The African Union has deployed a total of 40 observers and the European Union 100.
UN envoy to Sierra Leone Jens Anders Toyberg Frandzen last month warned of rising tensions, particularly between the two main parties, in the run-up to the elections, condemning excessive force used by police to quell disturbances.
A security source told AFP that 12,000 police will be on duty during the election period.
Final poll results are expected by November 26 and a potential second round of voting has been planned for December 8, according to the national electoral commission.
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