In an exclusive interview with VOA, The President of Sierra Leone  Julius Maada Bio was confronted with criticisms suggesting that he had limited the political space in the country.

In response, President Bio emphasized the steps he had taken to open up the political landscape, using strong quotes to convey his determination.

President Bio began by proudly stating, “Well, I won the election when it was closed. I have opened it up since I came by several actions, and you can actually relate to those.” He acknowledged the oppressive use of the death penalty in the past, noting how it had been exploited by ruling governments to suppress dissent.

Highlighting his commitment to change, he declared, “I have taken that off the law books.”

Drawing attention to the seditious library law, President Bio emphasized how it had stifled free speech and limited the ability of journalists to ask important questions. However, he asserted,

In Sierra Leone, journalists are free. There is no journalist in prison for the practice of journalism.”

He highlighted the significance of his actions by adding, “Very few people, not even the previous governments who claimed to be democratic, dared to do that.”

President Bio further clarified his vision for democracy in Sierra Leone, distinguishing between representative democracy and liberal democracy.

What I am doing is liberal democracy. I have always led when it comes to democracy in Sierra Leone.”He stated,

Reflecting on his past achievements, he mentioned how he had overseen the first democratic election in 1996 after nearly three decades of authoritarian rule. Now, he aimed to bring about liberal democracy, a system that embraced freedom and openness.

Undeterred by challenges, President Bio emphasized the importance of healthy debates in a hung parliament.

The parliament is there, it’s a hung parliament. We debate issues, and we convince even our strongest opponents to go along with us.“He said,

He pointed out the recent success of passing the gender bill, showcasing his ability to rally support for important causes.

Addressing the accusations of narrowing the political space, President Bio refuted them vehemently.

Anybody wanting to claim that we are closing the space does so without any tangible reason, but I have so many.”He stated

He firmly believed that his administration was not restricting or narrowing the space; instead, it was actively expanding it for the benefit of the people.

President Bio concluded by expressing his confidence in the positive impact his government’s actions would have on the country.

We believe that we are doing good things for our people, and quite a lot, and we can win on that credit.“He proclaimed