Sierra Leone Votes Amid Crippling Economic Crisis

Sierra Leone on Saturday commenced voting in a fiercely contested general election, with President Julius Maada Bio seeking a second term amid a crippling economic crisis that sparked deadly riots last year.

The deeply poor West African nation was battered by a brutal 1991-2002 civil war and the Ebola epidemic a decade later, and further pummelled economically by the Covid pandemic and the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Twelve men and one woman are vying for the top job and incumbent Bio’s main challenger is Samura Kamara of the All People’s Congress (APC) party.

The two could face off for the second time in a row. Bio, 59, of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), narrowly beat Kamara, who is aged 72, in a runoff in 2018.

Rising food prices are a key issue for many voters in the import-dependent nation of eight million people.

Year-on-year inflation hit 43 percent in April, according to the latest official figures.

Both Bio and Kamara told AFP they would prioritise boosting agricultural production.



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