President Ernest Bai Koroma was re-elected to a second 5-year term in Sierra Leone, Africa, by a strong majority, 59% to 38%, against Julius Maada Bio, a former military commander. The election, which took place on November 17, was remarkable in its peacefulness and according to international observers, was conducted fairly and freely. According to Reuters News Agency, 87% of the registered voters participated.
Parliamentary elections took place on the same day and resulted in President Koroma’s party, the APC, gaining eight seats and an absolute majority. Julius Maada Bio’s party, the SLPP, lost at least one seat, but still commands a strong opposition presence in parliament.
At first tempted to contest the results of the election, Brigadier Bio finally met with the President on Monday, December 3. The meeting was facilitated by a committee of national Christian leaders called the “Body of Christ.” In that meeting, Mr. Bio reiterated his commitment to peace and to effective communication between leaders of the main two parties. Importantly, he concluded, “the position of President Koroma as President of Sierra Leone is not in contention.”
President Koroma campaigned on a national development and anti-corruption platform. After the horrific civil war which took place from 1991-2002 (fueled by “blood diamonds” and international crime), development was slower than was hoped and at first there were concerns about the ubiquitous problem of corruption. Sierra Leone continues to be listed by the United Nations as one of the least developed countries of the world.
Things have definitely improved, however, under the first term of President Koroma. Peace and freedom have prevailed. Schools, roads and other infrastructures have been rebuilt all over the country, and the resource-rich mining industries are bringing benefits. For the first time, under President Koroma, the Anti-Corruption Commission has had power to investigate and prosecute offenders, and President Koroma has sought to rid his government of any suggestion of wrong-doing.
The President is the only head-of-state who is a member of The Wesleyan Church. His father, Sylvanus Koroma, was a long-time national secretary of the Wesleyan Church of Sierra Leone, and young Ernest grew up attending Wesleyan primary and secondary schools and Rogbane Wesleyan church in Makeni, SL. Ernest eventually became a businessman in the insurance industry before entering politics. His current membership is at Kissy Dockyard Wesleyan Church in Freetown, where he is active and is known as a man of prayer, wisdom, and deep faith in Christ.