It is no mirage that sierra Leone’s Presidential, Parliamentary and local council elections slated November 17 is a straight battle between incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma of the ruling All Peoples’ Congress Party (APC) and Rtd. Captain Julius Maada Bio, of the opposition, Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party (SLPP) even though there were 9 candidates vying for the country's top position, one candidate stepped down reducing the number from 9 to 8. Below, we take a summary look at some leading presidential candidates’ released by the National Electoral Commission (NEC)which includes incumbent, President Ernest Bai Koroma.
PRESIDENT ERNEST BAI KOROMA
Ernest Bai Koroma was born October 2, 1953 happens to be the fourth and current President of Sierra Leone and leader of All People's Congress(APC). He was sworn in as President on September 17, 2007 at the State House in the capital Freetown. Koroma succeeded Ahmad Tejan Kabbah as President, who was constitutionally ineligible to run for the presidency again after serving the maximum two five-year term limit.
He is known to have promised to run his government like a business; given his background in insurance and running his own successful business before getting in to power. He believes that a second mandate will place the country in a better position to maximize these investments.
Dr. Korama also list his vision for his second term as: Bolstering the economy; maximizing and improving service delivery training benefits from our natural resources; Protecting and Empowering the vulnerable; Enhancing national integrity and security; Deepening our democracy and the new politics; Promoting strategic foreign policy and international co-operation.
JULIUS MAADA BIO
Another leading contender, Julius Maada Bio , Born May 12, 1964, was one of a group of eight young army officers that included Captain Valentine Strasser, Lieutenant Sahr Sandy, Lieutenant Solomon Musa, Lieutenant Tom Nyuma, Lieutenant Komba Kambo, Lieutenant Charles M’bayo and Lieutenant Komba Mondeh that toppled President Joseph Saidu Momoh’s APC government in a military coup on April 29, 1992. The young soldiers formed the NPRC with Strasser as their Chairman and, eventually Head of State of Sierra Leone, and Musa as his second-in-command.
Later cementing himself the position of Principal liaison Officer in charge of supervising a number of ministries and subsequently promoted to the rank of captain along with other junior lieutenants, Julius Maada Bio was first appointment following the formation of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). Once the Secretary of State for information and broadcasting. Bio served as Supreme Council of State (SCS) member throughout the NPRC’s stay in power.
In July 1993, Captain Julius Maada Bio was appointed Vice Chairman and Deputy Head of State.Bio is known for his strong advocate for peace and now leads the opposition SLPP on to elections in November. He has a vision for Sierra Leone and lists the following as priorities for a new direction for the country: Respecting human rights and upholding the rule of law; Eliminating hunger; Fighting corruption and improving accountability; Effective management of natural resources and the economy; Quality education and improved health care.
Bio is on record as saying he would establish a national youth service scheme and also establish a special youth empowerment fund to provide for youth capacity building and supporting their entrepreneurial efforts. And remains the biggest impediment to the incumbent president in the upcoming election in the middle of this month, precisely the 17 of November.
CHARLES FRANCIS MARGAI
67 year old Charles Francis Kondo Margai is a Sierra Leonean lawyer and politician. He is the leader of the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) the third major political party in Sierra Leone, after the big two, the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) and the All People's Congress (APC). He was his party's candidate in the August 2007 presidential election. He came in third in the 2007 presidential election with 10% of the vote. He is the son of former Sierra Leone's Prime Minister Sir Albert Margai and the nephew of Sierra Leone's first Prime Minister Sir Milton Margai.
Margai was a member of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) which was co-founded in 1951 by his uncle Sir Milton Margai. Both his father and his uncle had been leaders of the SLPP. In 1996 Charles Margai sought the nomination for the party's candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. When he failed to secure the nomination he left the SLPP.
In the aftermath of Margai's failure to become the SLPP presidential candidate, he joined the National Unity Party and ran in the 1996 parliamentary election.
He subsequently returned to the SLPP and in April 1998, Margai became Minister of Internal Affairs and Local Government following the restoration of President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah; From November 1999 he was Minister of Safety and Security.
In early October 2005, he broke with the SLPP to form a new party, the People's Movement for Democratic Change. Margai faced difficulty in getting the PMDC officially registered, which he alleged was due to Kabbah deliberately delaying appointments to the Political Parties Commission which would enable the registration, thereby giving Berewa's campaign an advantage in time. The PMDC was officially registered on 19 January 2006.
In the August 2007 presidential election, Margai took third place with 13.9% of the vote, behind Ernest Bai Koroma of the opposition All People's Congress (APC) and the SLPP's Berewa. At his birthday party on 19 August, he said that he was backing the APC's Koroma for the second round of the election. On August 24, he said that the PMDC would campaign together with the APC for the second round. He also said that the PMDC's constitution would not allow him to join a government led by the APC if Koroma wins the election.
With incumbent President Koroma and the opposition Julius Bio confident of their chances of winning in the November 17 elections, the stage is set for what looks to be a closely contested election in the history of Sierra Leone.