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PoliticsSierra Leone

Sierra Leone President Bio claims win, rival disputes tally

Published June 27, 2023last updated June 27, 2023

Election officials declared Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio to have won re-election. His biggest rival Samura Kamara, and the opposition All People's Congress, instantly disputed the figures.

Sierra Leone Der Präsident Sierra Leones und Kandidat der Regierungspartei, Julius Maada Bio
Although electoral officials declared a victory for Sierra Leone's incumbent President Julius Maada Bio, his main challenger has rejected the resultsImage: Cooper Inveen/REUTERS

Electoral officials said Tuesday that Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio had clinched a second term in office, receiving 56.17% of ballots cast and narrowly clearing the threshold to avoid a runoff.

However, Bio's main opposition candidate Samura Kamara immediately disputed the tally, which showed he had received 41.16% of the vote in the Saturday election.

The final results were announced in the capital, Freetown, by commission head Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, who at the same time declared Bio president.

However, the  opposition All People's Congress (APC) alleged that there had been "overvoting" in some areas, calling the results fabricated and reaffirming victory.

"It is a sad day for our beloved country," the APC's candidate Kamara tweeted after the announcement. "It is a frontal attack on our fledgling democracy."

Bio was running for his second term against 12 opponents. Kamara narrowly lost to Bio in the last election in 2018.

Samura Kamara from the All People's Congress (APC) speaks into a mic
Samura Kamara from the All People's Congress (APC) is Bio's biggest rivalImage: John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images

A tense election in Sierra Leone

The tally has already been disputed by the APC, which denounced what it called "cooked-up figures" in a statement on Monday.

At a press conference, EU observers also said that a lack of transparency and communication by the electoral authority had led to mistrust in the process.

The APC said that election representatives were attacked and intimidated in three districts on June 24, the election day.

The electoral commission said that several officials had been beaten in different parts of the country.

Voters queue for polling in Sierra Leone
Millions of people registered to vote in Saturday's electionImage: John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images

A woman was found dead at APC party headquarters on Sunday after police surrounded the building and tried to disperse opposition supporters during a post-election news conference.

An APC spokesperson confirmed that the woman was a nurse and a party worker.

Members of the opposition parties said that the incident unfolded like a "horror film" and that "live rounds" and "shots" had been fired.

Police did not confirm the death while saying that they had fired tear gas canisters "to disperse the crowd which was disturbing people on the road."

Post-election unrest in Sierra Leone

While calm returned to Sierra Leone on Monday, citizens fear that more unrest could occur as results get announced.

After the publication of the provisional results, Bio addressed the nation and called on people to maintain peace.

Sierra Leone building on 20 years of peace

During his first term, the former coup leader championed education and women's rights.

Meanwhile, his rival Kamara, a former foreign and finance minister, is facing trial over allegations of misappropriating public funds, a case he says is politically motivated.

The West African country is still emerging from a 1991-2002 civil war which left over 50,000 people dead.

ns,rc/wd, rs (Reuters, AFP)