Sierra Leone: outgoing president re-elected, result contested by opposition

With 56.17% of the vote, Sierra Leone presidential favorite Julius Maada Bio won in the first round against the same opponent as in 2018, Samura Kamara, who “categorically rejects” the results and accuses the Electoral Commission of bias.

The polls did not lie in Sierra Leone: the outgoing president Julius Maada Bio was re-elected in the first round for a second term as head of the country with 56.17% of the vote, the head of the electoral commission.

“By virtue of the powers I have, I hereby confirm that Julius Maada Bio has been elected president in the elections of June 24, 2023,” Mohamed Kenewui Konneh said to applause at a press conference in Freetown.

Julius Maada Bio’s main opponent, Samura Kamara, came second with 41.16% of the vote, according to final results from the authority in charge of the election. Results that the opponent rejects “categorically” and considers “little credible”.

“I will rise above this travesty and pledge to continue the fight for a better Sierra Leone,” he said in a tweet confirmed by a party spokesman.

Immediately, supporters of the president, dressed in green, the color of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), celebrated their champion by honking horns and banging pots in downtown Freetown. Others blew vuvuzelas and chanted “Maada Bio, Maada Bio”.

“I’m glad Bio won, we want him to stabilize the economy and create jobs,” said SLPP activist Susan Myers, 34.

Lack of transparency

The previous day, partial results gave the outgoing president more than 55% of the vote, which is synonymous with victory in the first round of elections. They had been rejected by the opposition, which criticized the electoral commission’s lack of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability.

On Tuesday, before the proclamation of the final results, Samura Kamara confirmed in a press release “the total rejection of the APC” of the partial results, “manipulated and unverified”, according to them.

The vote, which took place on Saturday, was generally calm, although observers reported violent incidents during the vote and during the closing and counting.

EU observers believed that the lack of transparency and communication from the electoral authority had created distrust in the electoral process.

On Sunday night, a woman was killed at the opposition headquarters as security forces tried to disperse the crowd.

Massive investments in education

About 3.4 million people were called on Saturday to choose between 13 candidates, a 2018 rematch-like ballot between Julius Maada Bio, a 59-year-old retired military man seeking a second term, and Samura Kamura, a 72-year-old technocrat year.

In 2018, Julius Maada Bio, candidate for the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), won in the second round with 51.8% of the vote.

During his first term, Julius Maada Bio championed education and women’s rights. He said he wanted to prioritize agriculture and reduce his country’s dependence on food imports.

Addressing the nation after the first partial results, the sitting president called on Sierra Leoneans to remain calm and obey the law.

Samura Kamara, Minister of Finance, then Foreign Affairs before the arrival of Julius Maada Bio in 2018, had indicated that he wanted to restore confidence in national economic institutions and attract foreign investors.

With AFP

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