Sierra Leone’s president pledges to enforce agreement with opposition

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Sierra Leone's President and ruling party candidate Julius Maada Bio speaks to journalists after casting his vote for national elections at a polling station in Freetown, Sierra Leone, June 24, 2023. REUTERS/Cooper Inveen

On Tuesday, President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone made a commitment to fully carry out a recent accord reached with the opposition, facilitated by international organizations, aimed at alleviating tensions stemming from his disputed re-election earlier this year. In his address, he also stressed the importance of reevaluating the electoral system.

Julius Maada, who originally won the presidential election in 2018, secured re-election in June with 56.17% of the vote, as reported by the electoral commission. However, foreign observers criticized the election for irregularities, lack of transparency in the vote count, and incidents of violence and intimidation.

The primary opposition party, the All People’s Congress Party (APC), alleged that the presidential election, as well as the parliamentary and local elections, were rigged and decided to boycott parliamentary and local council proceedings.

An agreement was reached between the government and the APC last week, with mediation from the Commonwealth, the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The APC agreed to end its boycott in exchange for the cessation of detentions and court cases it claimed were politically motivated. They also agreed to establish an inter-party committee to review the June elections with the mediation partners.

President Bio spoke on Tuesday evening the necessity of putting aside differences and called for unity and reconciliation in the country. He pledged that his government would prioritize the provisions of the agreement, stating, “The government will work with the main opposition party and all the other political parties to ensure that the agreement is applied in full.”

 

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