Hopes are high and the pressure is on as Sierra Leoneans get ready to elect a new president and parliament on Saturday.

The country’s third national election since the end of its decade-long civil war in 2002—and its first independently organized election since that conflict—many hope the contest will cement the country’s democratic standing and stability.
Ahead of the polls, officials of all political parties pledged to urge supporters to refrain from the violence that marred elections in 2007, in which President Ernest Bai Koroma claimed a run-off victory. Koroma, whose All People’s Congress (APC) currently holds a parliamentary majority, faces eight challengers, including main opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
As nationwide campaigning wrapped up Thursday, analysts said that although they expect a tight race, the incumbent has a good chance of being re-elected to a second five-year term.