Julius Bio Sworn In As Sierra Leone President
Opposition candidate and former military junta leader, Julius Bio was sworn in as Sierra Leone’s new president late on Wednesday, just hours after the elections commission announced his victory.
Dressed in traditional white robes, Maada Bio was sworn in just before midnight at a hotel in the capital Freetown, raising in the air the Bible upon which he swore the oath of office to the cheers of supporters.
“This is the dawn of a new era. The people of this great nation have voted to take a new direction,” he said in a speech following the short ceremony in which he made an appeal for national unity.
“We have only one country, Sierra Leone, and we are all one people.”
Bio, who briefly ruled Sierra Leone as head of a military junta in 1996, replaces outgoing President Ernest Koroma, who could not seek re-election due to term limits.
The largely peaceful election process has come as a relief for the country of seven million people.
Citizens in the 1990s endured a brutal civil war fueled by the diamond trade and notorious for its drug-addled child soldiers and punitive amputations.
Bio now faces the difficult task of rebuilding the impoverished West African nation’s economy that was also dragged down by the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic and a global slump in commodity prices.