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Freetown - Voters in Sierra Leone were on Sunday awaiting the result of a closely-fought presidential run-off in the impoverished west African country, which is still recovering from a brutal civil war.
Unofficial results released on radio showed outgoing vice president Solomon Koroma with 52 percent of the vote slightly ahead of opposition leader Ernest Berewa on 48 percent, based on counts from one fifth of polling stations.
Voting on Saturday passed off peacefully but under tight security.
Both sides had traded accusations of foul play raising tension at the start of the polling, but on Sunday both leaders Berewa, 69, and Koroma, 53, toned down their complaints.
A spokesperson for the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party said his candidate Berewa was winning but that the SLPP would not recognise results in three northern districts where its workers were unable to monitor the vote.
"For two hours during polling day the police rounded up all of our polling agents, locked them up and in the process the APC operatives had the chance to stuff ballot papers," Victor Reider told reporters.
He said SLPP workers in 50 of the more than 6 150 polling stations around the country had been unable to monitor the vote.
Except for three areas in the ruling party stronghold where it failed to deploy it monitors, the opposition All People's Congress (APC) expressed satisfaction with the vote.
"We are happy and we are winning," APC party spokesperson Alpha Kanu said.
"But we will reject the results from Kailahun, Kenema and Pujehun because we believe the process should have been open to all and our agents could not enter parts of those districts," he added.
Foreign observers were satisfied with the "peaceful and orderly" voting, but remained cautious of assessing the entire process.
"We are watching very carefully. The process is not complete yet, there is a long way to go," said Marie-Anne Isler Beguin, the European Union chief observer.
"We would hope that there is no rise in tension with the announcement of the results," she told reporters.
The post-polling mood is "going to depend on how the electoral official manage the offical results," said Chris Fomunyoh, chief observer of the US-based National Democratic Institute.
"Parties must be in the process of tabulating the unofficial results and if the official result matches them, it would be easy for everyone to accept the outcome," he added.
Political tensions rose two weeks ago after results of the first round showed Berewa trailing second with 38.3 percent of the vote against Koroma at 44.3 percent.
Although first official results were not expected before Monday at the earliest, voters across the capital were glued to their little hand-held radios following the unofficial figures.
More than two million voters were registered to vote in only the second elections since the end of the war and the first since 17 500 UN peacekeepers were pulled out in 2005.
Many said they were voting for a new order in the world's second poorest nation, which ironically has huge diamond reserves and vast mineral wealth.
Sierra Leone gained notoriety for the barbarity of its diamond-fuelled civil war, in which thousands had their limbs hacked off and 120 000 people were killed in a decade of fighting that ended six years ago.