On Friday, the president of Sierra Leone alleged that the United States pressured him to intervene during the tallying of votes for the June 24 election in his country.
“At the peak moment of announcing the election results, that’s when issues arose,” commented President Julius Maada Bio while addressing an audience at American University in Washington.
AFP reports that President Bio emphasized that the Election Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) had diligently carried out all necessary calculations and procedures. ” I was now requested to stop them from calling the result by the United States. So, I don’t know who is accusing who of interference.”
Referring to the ECSL, President Bio added, “They operate as an independent, semi-autonomous entity. I made my stance clear, saying I’ve never contacted them before and I won’t start now.”
After the election, a joint statement from the United States, European Union, France, Ireland, and Germany expressed concerns mirroring those of national and international observers “about the lack of transparency in the tabulation process.”
Before the election, there was speculation that the country’s escalating inflation and challenging economic situation might provide an advantage to the opposition. However, Bio secured 56.17 percent of the votes, slightly surpassing the 55 percent threshold required to prevent a second round of voting.
On August 31, the U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions on individuals “suspected of undermining Sierra Leone’s democracy,” which encompasses activities like vote manipulation or intimidating election monitors. Although the specific individuals affected by these restrictions were not disclosed, due to visa proceedings being confidential by U.S. law, President Bio weighed in on the matter.
Speaking at the institution where he obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees after relocating to the U.S., Bio mentioned his past transition from leading a brief military junta to overseeing a shift to democratic governance in the 1990s. He stated, “Elections, irrespective of where they take place globally, including in the U.S., are always subjects of contention.”
Bio further added, “When the U.S. questions the authenticity of the election results, it’s tantamount to endorsing a coup.”