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A modest observation

The U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone is facing a backlash of criticism after making a mild comment on the likelihood of a runoff election because two top presidential candidates have such strong support going into the Nov. 17 contest.

Ambassador Michael Owen noted in a radio interview this week that President Ernest Koroma and his main opponent, Julius Maada Bio, have “good support.”

Mr. Owen added, “I am convinced the elections will be peaceful.”

His modest observation brought an outraged reaction from another presidential candidate, Mohamed Bangura, who demanded an apology, and from commentator Ahmed M. Kamara, who called for Mr. Owen to be recalled to the United States.

Mr. Bangura called Mr. Owen’s remarks “reckless and undiplomatic.”

Voters in the West African nation are preparing for the third national election after an 11-year civil war that claimed 120,000 lives ended in 2002.

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