After a Drawn-Out Vote, Sierra Leone’s New President Settles In

After a Drawn-Out Vote, Sierra Leone’s New President Settles In
Julius Maada Bio heads to a polling station to cast his ballot during the runoff presidential vote, Freetown, Sierra Leone, March 31, 2018 (AP photo by Cooper Inveen).

Almost a month after voters went to the polls in the first round of elections, Sierra Leone has chosen a new president. Julius Maada Bio, the candidate for the Sierra Leone People’s Party, secured 51.8 percent of the vote in the March 31 runoff against Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress. Maada Bio, who lost in the first round of 2012’s presidential race, was sworn in as president on April 4.

This is not the first time Maada Bio has led Sierra Leone, as he was the military head of a transitional government for three months in 1996. But 2018 marks the first time he was chosen by the people of Sierra Leone. It also brings to an end a decade of rule by the All People’s Congress, or APC, which had won consecutive elections with Ernest Bai Koroma at the helm in 2007 and 2012, but which was unable to turn the advantages of incumbency into electoral success this time around.

The APC has promised to challenge the election results in the Supreme Court, citing irregularities. Maada Bio and Kamara have held amicable meetings since the results were announced, however, with some speculating that Kamara has promised to drop the challenge if Maada Bio assures him that certain senior APC party officials will not be investigated for corruption.

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