March 27, 2018 has been set as a runoff date to elect Sierra Leone’s next president. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on March 13 that former foreign affairs minister, Samura Kamara will face Julius Maada Bio, a former military head of state.
Kamara who leads the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) came in second after final results of the March 7 polls were declared. Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) won the first round with close to 1.1 million votes representing 43%.
A run-off presidential election between the first and second placed candidates is held two weeks after the certification of the results, unless a candidate wins 55% in the first round.
As part of our running coverage of the process, we present profiles of the two men aiming to succeed outgoing Ernest Bai Koroma as president.
Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara of ruling APC
Born April 30, 1951, the former central bank governor turned politician is aiming to continue with the APC government’s work even as Bai Koroma steps down. He will become the second APC candidate to occupy the presidency.
Kamara held the post of Central Bank governor between 2007 – 2009. He subsequently joined the APC and served in two top cabinet positions. Minister of Finance and Economic Development (2009 – 2012) and Foreign Affairs portfolio between 2012 and 2017.
He stepped down from his diplomatic responsibilities after the party elected him in October 2017 to lead their charge for a third straight term in office. This is his first shot at the presidency, he is credited with spearheading blueprint for Koroma’s first term in office.
He is a trained economist who holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics from the country’s famed Fourah Bay College. He also holds a PhD in Development Economics (1986) from the Bangor University in Wales, United Kingdom.
Samura is also celebrated as the lead technocrat who oversaw the country’s debt cancellation in 2007. The economy boomed under his tenure whiles Sierra Leone’s international relations soared during his tenure as chief government diplomat.
He is a Roman Catholic despite growing in a Muslim environment, most members of his family are Muslims. He is married to Elizabeth Massah Kamara. The vice presidential candidate of the APC is Bah Chernor Ramadan Maju.
Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio – main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)
Julius Maada Bio, 53, has tasted the presidency before having served a military Head of State for about three months. He led the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) military junta government that lasted from January 16 to March 29 1996.
He has also tasted how it feels to be on the ballot paper, he was the Sierra Leone Peoples Party’s candidate for the last elections. He lost to outgoing Ernest Bai Koroma who beat him in the first round of voting.
As a military ruler, he toppled his boss in the NPRC junta Captain Valentine Strasser in January 1996 but handed over to democratically elected Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP after the 1996 presidential elections.
He later retired from active service that year and moved to the United States to further his studies. He earned a Masters Degree in International Affairs from the American University in Washington DC.
He was born on May 12, 1964 and graduated from military academy in October 1987 aged 23. He has played part in peacekeeping ops by the United Nations famously in Liberia. He played a role in the 1992 coup and led the 1996 one before handing over after elections.
He returned from the U.S. to join the SLPP in 2005. Contested to lead the party but lost the bid. He was picked as party’s presidential candidate in 2012 polls and garnered 37% of votes to place second.
He is a Roman Ctholic married to Fatima Bio a practicing Muslim and a Gambian national. They got married in an interfaith ceremony in London in 2013. The couple have a child but Maada Bio has three other children from a previous marriage. The vice presidential candidate of the SLPP is Jalloh Mohamed Juldeh.