Source AP ©

Opposition candidate Ernest Bai Koroma wins in Sierra Leone

Opposition leader Ernest Bai Koroma has won Sierra Leone 's presidential run-off, election officials declared Monday.

Koroma received 55 percent of the 1.7 million votes counted, compared with 45 percent for the ruling party candidate, Vice President Solomon Berewa, election commission chief Christiana Thorpe said.

The vote has seen as a test for the West African country to show it has emerged from the chaos wrought by a decade-long war that ended in 2002. Tens of thousands of civilians died in the fighting, and rebels hacked off the limbs of countless others.

The presidential vote was Sierra Leone's first since U.N. peacekeepers withdrew two years ago.

Though rich in diamonds, Sierra Leone has a citizenry that is poor and unemployed, and corruption is rampant.

President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah was barred by law from running for a third five-year term.

Koroma, 54, led the first round of voting on Aug. 11, winning 44 percent of the vote, compared with 38 percent for Berewa, 69. However, that margin was not large enough to win outright.

About 2.6 million of Sierra Leone's 5 million people registered to vote. A simple majority was needed for victory.