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Brig/Gen Bio is back! S. Leone declares opposition leader the new president

Retired Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio, President-elect of Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone —The West African nation of Sierra Leone voted unanimously to make their voice heard through a free and fair presidential electoral process.

The country’s election commission has declared main opposition candidate, former military leader, retired Brigadier General Julius Maada Bio as the country’s president.

Young infantry officer BIO was a member of the NPRC military regime that nurtures true democracy to Sierra Leone in the mid-1990s.  Most Sierra Leoneans say he deserves this reward.

Mohamed N’Fah Alie Conteh, the National Electoral Commission chairman said Wednesday that Bio won the March 31 second round election with 51.81 percent of valid votes cast.  Bio, a former military leader who was the Sierra Leone Peoples Party candidate defeated Samura Kamara, the ruling party’s candidate who received 48.19 percent of the votes.

Tensions rose in the West African nation of 7 million people after neither the ruling All Peoples Congress party nor Bio won the March 7 first round outright. The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party has not held the presidency since 2007.

Sierra Leone’s political observers say this was Bio’s second bid for the presidency after stepping down as military in the mid-1990s. He lost in 2012.

The poll’s winner was declared later on Wednesday.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court told Globe Afrique that the President-elect would be sworn in as president immediately after the announcement of the final vote.

Eyewitnesses say tensions flare ahead of presidential runoff vote result after hundreds of pro-government demonstrators gathered Wednesday in the capital to protest what they claimed was a “stolen” presidential vote.

Kamara’s supporters, who marched in Freetown Wednesday evening, tore down Bio posters and alleging “foreign meddling” in the vote, an eyewitness said.

Bio scarcely won the first round of voting ahead of Kamara, a close ally of outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma.

According to the National Election Commission, a total of 3.1 million people were registered to vote in the first presidential poll since a 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak which killed 4,000 people.

The West African nation, which is one of the world’s poorest despite huge mineral and diamond deposits, is gradually recovering from war and disease.  Despite relative strong political institutions, its economy remains in a fragile state with corruption pervasive in the former British protectorate.

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Ben Mabande

Ben Mabande is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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