-for undermining their country's democratic process
Two months after election in Sierra Leone, the United States Government has announced a new visa restriction for Sierra Leoneans, attempting to undermine the June 2023 Presidential Election in the neighboring country.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken says the new visa restriction policy is under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for those involved in undermining the democratic process in the June 2023 Sierra Leone election.
Mr. Blinken says the United States is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Sierra Leone and around the world.
"Under this policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Sierra Leone, including through the manipulation or rigging of the electoral process; intimidation of voters, election observers, or civil society organizations through threats or acts of physical violence; or the abuse or violation of related human rights in Sierra Leone", he announced in a statement issued on Thursday, 31 August.
According to Secretary of State Blinken, the visa restriction policy will apply to specific individuals and is not directed at the Sierra Leonean people, noting that this decision reflects the commitment of the United States to support Sierra Leoneans' aspirations to have free and fair elections that demonstrate the will of the people and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
He adds that family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions, and that persons who undermine the democratic process in Sierra Leone, including in the lead-up to, during, and following the June 2023 elections may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.
Sierra Leoneans went to the poll on 24 June 2023 in which incumbent President Julius Madaa Bio was declared winner, receiving 1,566,932 votes or 56.17% of the total cast against main challenger Samura Kamara of the All Peoples' Congress (APC) who received 1,148,262 votes, representing 41.16 percent, as announced by the Sierra Leone electoral commission.
The pronouncement by the US comes at the time Wets Africa gradually slips back to military rule, scratching democratic rule particularly in Francphone West Africa with the latest being Gabon.
It also comes barely one month and ten days before Liberians go election on October 10th, 2023, in which 20 candidates are vying, including incumbent President George Weah.
Both Liberia aand Sierra Leone share common border, cultural and tribal ties.