FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Sierra Leoneans chose Saturday between keeping an incumbent president who has expanded health care and paved roads or electing an opposition candidate to lead this war-scarred nation still recovering a decade later despite its mineral riches.
The election marked the third presidential vote since the West African nation’s 11-year conflict ended in 2002, a brutal war during which rebels tortured victims and conscripted child soldiers.
Voters said Saturday they wanted to demonstrate just how far Sierra Leone has come over the past decade by holding a transparent and peaceful vote.
“We’ve been through a lot in the last 20 years. Now we’re trying to move forward,” said Mannah Kpukumu, 36, a civil servant waiting in a line that snaked near a giant cotton tree long before dawn. “We the young guys want employment and to be able to take care of our families.”