Sierra Leone approves presidential, opposition leader candidates
The Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has approved President Julius Maada Bio’s candidacy for the June general elections as he seeks a second term.
The ECSL on Tuesday also approved the main opposition party’s nominee Samura Kamara, the runner-up in the last presidential vote in 2018. He lost to Bio, a former military ruler who had lost a presidential bid four years earlier.
Bio will be running after a first term marred by economic hardship and rampant inflation in a country still recovering from the 2014 Ebola outbreak before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Frustration over financial distress and a perceived failure by the government to cushion the effect of rising prices stoked rare anti-government protests in August last year, which killed dozens.
Kamara, 72, said the West African country had “systemic challenges”.
“Sierra Leone can still not feed itself, we cannot light up the country. We cannot have sustainable progressive economic development, economic growth no serious infrastructure,” he told the press earlier this week.
Bio, 58, said he intended to continue his push to improve access to public education, which he made free at the primary and secondary levels during his first term, and boost agricultural production to improve food security.
Voters in June will also elect members of parliament, mayors and local councillors. This election will be the fifth one since Sierra Leone’s brutal 10-year civil war ended in 2002.