A man casts his ballot in the general elections on March 7, 2018 at a polling station in Freetown.

Story highlights

16 presidential candidates contested first round of election March 7

Presidential run-off will be held on March 27

CNN  — 

Sierra Leone will vote in a presidential run-off election March 27, after neither of the candidates in the first round achieved the 55% of the ballot required to take office.

Julius Maada Bio, the candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party and former military leader of the West African nation in 1996, will face off against Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress, the National Electoral Commission said Tuesday.

With 43.3% of the vote, Bio led the first round of voting on March 7. Kamara, a former finance minister, followed a close second with 42.7%, the Electoral Commission said in a statement.

Sierra Leoneans picked from a pool of 16 candidates.

The winner of the March 27 run-off will succeed President Ernest Bai Koroma, who leaves office after serving two five-year terms.

Koroma took office in 2007 in the shadow of a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002.

Volunteers search for bodies from the scene of heavy flooding and mudslides in Regent, just outside of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown.
Sierra Leone: 'The war, Ebola, now this.'
01:33 - Source: CNN

The country has endured several devastating events in past years, including mudslides last year which left hundreds dead in the capital, Freetown.

This was preceded by an Ebola crisis in 2014 which claimed nearly 4,000 lives.

Sierra Leone’s new president will be faced with the challenge of reducing extreme poverty and rebuilding the West African country for its 7.3 million citizens.