Sierra Leone: President Promises Free, Quality Education

His inauguration over the weekend was attended by seven African leaders.

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Sierra Leone’s newly elected President, Julius Maada Bio, a retired Brigadier General and former military leader, on May 12, 2018 used his 54th birthday anniversary to organise his inauguration, which was attended by seven African leaders.

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Speaking at the ceremony held in the Siaka Stevens National Stadium in the capital, Freetown, Maada Bio reiterated the provision of free quality education as a flagship programme of his administration.

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“I will build on and consolidate the gains made over the years to transform the country through my New Direction policy,” he promised. The new President promised to provide disciplined and inclusive leadership, declaring war against indiscipline, corruption and poverty. He cited youth empowerment as one of his priorities and promised to consolidate bilateral relations with other countries.

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Attending last weekend’s ceremony were Liberian President George Weah, Senegalese President MacKay Sall, Guinea Conakry President Alpha Condé and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé. Nigeria’s Vice ¨President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo represented his country.

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“This is the dawn of a new era. The people of this great nation have voted to take a new direction,” Maada said earlier on April 5, 2018 while taking the oath of office less than two hours after being declared winner.

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The constitution says a presidential candidate must be sworn in the same day they are declared winner. Julius Maada Bio of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, SLPP, received 43.3 per cent of the vote in the first round of elections last March, falling short of the 55 per cent needed for an outright win.

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In the runoff on March 31, 2018, he won with 51.81 per cent, while Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress, APC, took 48.19 per cent of votes. Outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma stepped down after serving two five-year terms with the APC. Maada Bio was part of a group of soldiers who overthrew the government in 1992.

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In January 1996, he staged a palace coup, arguing that Captain Valentine Strasser wanted to renege on the promised handover to an elected civilian government. Despite abundant mineral deposits, Sierra Leone’s was negatively affected by the 1991- 2002 civil war that killed 120,000 people.

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The Ebola outbreak also killed up to 4,000 people between 2014 and 2016. The country is one of the world's poorest, with a fragile economy and widespread corruption.

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