Julius Maada Bio: Sierra Leone's pugnacious former coup-maker

2018-03-29 16:03
Sierra Leone Flag. (iStock)

Sierra Leone Flag. (iStock) (iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Julius Maada Bio, 53, a former coup-maker who once apologised for exactions carried out by his comrades, is taking a second stab at leading Sierra Leone as a civilian.

The straight-talking retired brigadier, who briefly led a junta in 1996, is hoping to end a decade in power for the All Peoples' Congress (APC) with Saturday's runoff presidential election.

A member of the Mende people who traditionally lend strong support to the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), Bio was born on May 12, 1964, in the southern town of Tihun.

After school and military training, he was sent in 1990 to neighbouring Liberia, where war had just broken out, to serve in the Sierra Leone contingent of troops sent by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

He was recalled to his own nation one year later when rebel forces there began to stir, with the rumblings of Sierra Leone's own civil war on the horizon.

The former military man was one of a group of young soldiers behind a 1992 coup that would install their leader, Valentine Strasser, as the youngest head of state in the world, at age 25.

Bio ousted Strasser four years later and headed the government for three months to pave the way for democratic elections.

He agreed to step aside for the duly elected Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, allowing Sierra Leone to re-establish democracy.

He later apologised for the conduct of troops who executed more than 20 people after the 1992 coup, and is widely considered to have rehabilitated his image.

Bio, who spent time after leaving power studying in the United States, is not known to mince words.

During a February campaign debate he called Chinese infrastructure projects "a sham with no economic and development benefits to the people" of the poor west African country.

After gaining the presidential nomination for the SLPP in 2012, he lost the election to outgoing president Ernest Bai Koroma.

This time, he has promised to review mining concession agreements and to provide free universal education at the primary and secondary levels if elected.

After Bio hit out at corruption on the campaign trail, his opponent Samura Kamara accused the SLPP candidate of stealing $18m during his brief time at the helm, though his APC opponent faces corruption allegations of his own.

The SLPP has accused the APC of wanting to cling to power after a lawyer linked to the ruling party filed a complaint of electoral fraud which briefly delayed the vote.

Read more on:    sierra leone  |  west africa  |  sierra leone 2018 elections

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.