Sierra Leoneans to vote as economic crisis bites

On Saturday, tension-filled elections will be held in Sierra Leone, where President Julius Maada Bio hopes to win a second term despite a terrible economic crisis that contributed to last year’s fatal protests.

The Ebola virus struck the West African nation in 2002, and it never fully recovered economically. The Covid pandemic and the effects of the conflict in Ukraine severely devastated the nation.

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There are 13 people running for the top job, but Samura Kamara, an academic technocrat with the opposition All People’s Congress (APC), who finished second in the most recent election in 2018, is Bio’s biggest adversary.

This time, though, the eight million-person nation is engulfed in a severe cost-of-living crisis, which fueled riots in August of last year that claimed more than 30 lives.

The last month on record, March, saw annual inflation at 41.5 percent.

“Citizens are finding it very difficult to even have three square meals a day… everyday prices of commodities are going higher,” a 19-year-old resident of Cockle Bay slum in the capital Freetown told AFP.

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