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Sierra Leone Peaceful, Waiting for Election Results

The mood in Sierra Leone is calm and watchful, despite confirmed reports of irregularities during voting for Saturday's run-off presidential election that have caused the National Electoral Commission to invalidate some of the results. With about 40 percent of votes counted across the country, opposition candidate Ernest Bai Koroma is holding onto his early lead. For VOA, Naomi Schwarz has more from Dakar

On Saturday, Sierra Leoneans voted in the second round of presidential elections pitting Vice-President Solomon Berewa, of the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party, against opposition candidate Ernest Bai Koroma from the All People's Congress.

Violence in the campaign for the run-off election led some observers to fear what might happen when results were announced. They worried voters disappointed with the outcome or suspecting tampering would not accept the results peacefully.

But as results trickle in from across the country, Sierra Leonean journalist Jeffrey Spring says people are calmly waiting for the official outcome.

"They are very enthusiastic over the results as they come in, but then they still have to wait until the NEC actually gives the certified results," he said.

Spring says there have been reports of fraud and irregularities in some polling stations.

"The chief electoral commissioner has said there were some irregularities and one was pointed out, which was in Bombali," he said.

Bombali is a district in the north of Sierra Leone. Spring says the electoral commission invalidated the results from that district, which were in favor of the opposition candidate.

The National Electoral Commission has said some polling stations reported more votes than registered voters. They are continuing to investigate all allegations, and say they will invalidate any questionable results.

But Chris Fomunyoh, of the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute, says their observers have concluded, on the whole, the election was transparent and fairly conducted. He says the irregularities reported are important to the overall trust Sierra Leoneans will have in the democratic process, but probably not significant to the outcome of this election.

He says he is encouraged by the commitment from voters and the parties to use legal means to effect change and voice concerns.

"I see that as a very good sign that even if there are complaints arising from the conduct of last Saturday's election that the candidates and their parties will pursue fitting redress through the legal process that is defined by the constitution and the electoral laws of Sierra Leone," he said.

This will be the first transfer of power since Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war ended in 2002 and the first election without United Nations Peacekeepers.

Final results are expected to be announced soon.