August 2023 | Political situation remains unstable as opposition party boycotts institutions
Following the contested result of the general election in June, the political situation in Sierra Leone remains unstable. The main opposition party, the All People’s Congress (APC) rejected that election result and began a policy of non-engagement with the government led by President Julius Maada Bio, and stated that its members will not take up the offices to which they have been elected at any level of government, including local councils and the national legislature. Only one member of the party had been sworn in before the official opening of Parliament on 4 August. A second APC MP was sworn in on 8 August, defying the party line.
June 2023 | General election victory for incumbent President Bio, but observers note lack of transparency
General elections were held in Sierra Leone on 24 June 2023. The election selected the members of local councils, the unicameral national parliament, and the president. The presidential election has attracted the most attention. The official results gave incumbent President Julius Maada Bio 56 per cent of the vote, one per cent above the threshold that would have required a second round of voting. Turnout was reported to be 83 per cent of registered voters, marking a continuation of the high level of participation in 2018 and 2012. Mr. Bio was sworn in to begin his second term within hours of the announcement of the official results. However, local and foreign election observers raised serious concerns about inconsistencies and a lack of transparency in the vote-counting process. The main opposition party All People’s Congress (APC) echoed this concern and alleged over-voting in some districts and called for a re-run of the election. The parliamentary election also resulted in a victory for President Bio’s Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), which won 81 seats (60 per cent) while the APC took 54. This election was a significant advance for gender equality in the country, as the number of women in the legislature more than doubled from 19 to 42, now accounting for 28.2 per cent of the members of parliament. This achievement follows the Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Act passed in January 2023. However, advocates have noted that this still falls short of the 30 per cent quota the act established due to weaknesses in application of the law.
April 2023 | Political parties regulator bans street rallies ahead of election
Ahead of the 24 June general elections, Sierra Leone’s Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC) has banned street rallies – a traditional form of mobile campaigning event in the country – requiring political parties to hold their campaign events in fixed locations. The PPRC suggested that this decision would reduce the likelihood of electoral violence, and that it was supported by 17 registered political parties. However, the main opposition party has claimed that the ban was imposed against its wishes. Legal activists have noted that the ban may be a violation of rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including the rights to Freedom of Movement, and Association and Assembly. It also creates practical challenges for campaigning due to the limited transportation network and small number of locations suitable for holding a political rally.
August 2022 | Protests over cost of living result in violence
Between 10 and 12 August, protests against the rising cost of living broke out in three cities in Sierra Leone. Protestors are reported to have blocked roads, set fires, and thrown stones at police. In the resulting violence, six police officers and at least thirteen protestors were killed. The government responded by restricting Internet access and imposing a curfew.