I rejected U.S. pressure to interfere in Sierra Leone’s election, President Bio alleges

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone has alleged that the United States pressured him to stop the announcement of the June 24 election results.

The president, according to AFP, disclosed this on Friday in an event at the American University in Washington, amid concerns about the fairness of the disputed polls criticised by both the opposition and international observers.

The U.S., European Union, France, Ireland and Germany had in a joint statement after the election, shared concerns “about the lack of transparency in the tabulation process.”

Against the belief that the country’s rising inflation and poor economy will lead to the opposition being victorious at the polls, President Bio was declared winner after amassing 56.17 per cent of votes, above the 55 per cent needed to avoid a runoff.

However, the 59-year-old stated that the call by the U.S. for him to stop the election result declaration happened when the Election Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) “had done all their calculations, collations, all the processes. I was now requested to stop them from calling the result by the United States. So I don’t know who is accusing who of interference.”

He also claimed that “They (ECSL) are an independent, semi autonomous body. I declined, and I said I have never called this institution, I am not going to call them now.”

He also stated that, “Elections are always contentious issues, no matter where they happen in the world, including the United States,” adding that when “the United States casts doubt on the credibility (of the election), you are calling for a coup.”

President Bio added that “The same representatives of the United States have told us that in any case, they just wanted a second round. In any case, I was going to win, because all the polls have made that clear.”

Following the disputed election, the U.S. State Department on August 31, announced visa restrictions on unnamed individuals “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Sierra Leone,” whether through vote rigging or intimidation of election observers.

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