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Sierra Leone re-elects Juluis Maada Bio; opponents accuse him of cheating

The incumbent president of Sierra Leone has declared victory in the 2023 election despite outcry and accusations of cheating from opponents. 

President Juluis Maada Bio, 59, claimed victory Wednesday after officials announced he received 56% of the national vote. 

According to the same figures, opponent Samura Kamara, 72, came in a distant second with 41%. 

CENTURIES-OLD COTTON TREE, NATIONAL SYMBOL FOR DECADES, FELLED BY STORM IN SIERRA LEONE

Sierra Leone protesters

Supporters of the President of Sierra Leone and Leader of Sierra Leone People’s Party, Julius Maada Bio, celebrate in the streets following his re-election in Freetown on June 27, 2023. President Bio was re-elected with 56.17% to serve a second term, the head of the electoral commission said on June 27 following a process disputed by the opposition. (JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images)

Kamara reported that his own camp was not allowed to witness or verify ballot counting and called the outcome “daylight robbery.” 

“My compatriots,” Kamara wrote in a statement following the results. “We have heard the unfortunate announcement of the elections results for the June 24 Presidential elections by the Chief Electoral Commissioner Mr Konneh. It is a sad day for our beloved country. It is a frontal attack on our fledgling democracy.” 

Kamara continued, “These results are NOT credible and I categorically reject the outcome so announced by the electoral commission.”

SIERRA LEONE PRESIDENT DECLARES RAPE A NATIONAL EMERGENCY

Sierra Leone People's party (SLPP), Julius Maada Bio

President of Sierra Leone and Leader of Sierra Leone People’s Party Julius Maada Bio addresses his supporters during their final campaign rally in Freetown on June 20, 2023. Sierra Leoneans will vote in a general election on June 24, 2023 with President Bio hoping to secure a second term despite a crippling economic crisis which has sparked deadly protests. (JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images)

International election watchdogs have also raised questions on the validity of the national election.

“We are not convinced that the integrity was maintained throughout the elections,” the U.S.-based Carter Center’s Cameron Hume told the BBC.

However, Hume acknowledged there was no hard evidence of fraud.

Bio, a former soldier, has been president of Sierra Leone since 2018. 

All People's Congress (APC) party protestors

Hundreds of supporters of the opposition party, All People’s Congress (APC), hold up signs calling for the Chief electoral Commissioner, Mohamed Konneh, to step down after allegations of electoral fraud, at a protest in Freetown on June 21, 2023. When Sierra Leoneans go to the polls in Saturday’s presidential election, he plans to vote for the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party. Last time, he voted for incumbent President Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) who is running again. (JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images)

The nation is undergoing a period of economic difficulty and societal decline amid high crime, rampant violence, and fracturing politics.

In 2019, Bio declared rape a “national emergency” after hundreds of sexual assaults against women, young children and babies were reported every month.

Bio’s Sierra Leone People’s Party and Kamara’s All People’s Congress party have accused one another of violence and intimidation in the run-up to the election.

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