Sierra Leone: Bio declared winner of presidential election

IN a tightly contested race, Sierra Leone’s incumbent President Julius Maada Bio has been declared the winner of the country’s presidential election, according to the election commission.

The process leading up to the announcement has been marked by disputes and tensions.

Chief Electoral Commissioner Mohamed Kenewui Konneh announced on Tuesday, June 27, that Bio secured 56.17 per cent of the vote in the Saturday, June 24, election, ensuring his re-election.

His main challenger, Samura Kamara of the All Peoples Congress (APC), came in second with 41.16 per cent of the vote.

“By the powers invested in me… I hereby certify that Bio Julius Maada… (is) duly elected president,” stated Konneh, confirming Bio’s victory.

The announcement follows days of conflicting claims from both parties, with Kamara asserting that he was on an “irreversible path to an overwhelming victory”.

He also alleged that security forces had fired live bullets during a celebration at his party’s headquarters on Sunday, a claim denied by the police.

The APC has expressed concerns about the transparency and inclusiveness of the electoral process, criticising the electoral commission for not providing detailed information about the origin of the ballots from polling stations or districts.

The party issued a statement on Monday, June 26, condemning what they referred to as “fake and cooked up results”, rejecting the outcome and reiterating their claim of victory.

European Union (EU) observers, in a press conference on Monday, highlighted a lack of transparency and communication by the electoral authority, which contributed to mistrust in the process.

They also reported instances of violence at several polling stations during voting and counting stages.

The June 24 election, the fifth since Sierra Leone’s civil war ended in 2002, took place against a backdrop of high unemployment, inflation, and escalating violence.

Bio, a former coup leader from the 1990s, emphasised education and women’s rights during his first term, but faced mounting frustration over the country’s economic challenges.

Last year’s violent protests, triggered by rising prices, reflected the enduring cost-of-living crisis that the APC sought to capitalise on in their bid for votes.

However, Sierra Leone’s economic downturn, with widespread underemployment and over half of the population living in poverty, has hindered prospects of recovery, as highlighted by the World Bank.

Bio’s administration has faced increasing criticism for the country’s debilitating economic conditions, an area where Kamara pledged to bring improvement.

The challenges ahead for Sierra Leone’s re-elected President include addressing the economic hardships and fulfilling the aspirations of a nation striving for progress.

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