A leading opposition contender in next month’s elections in Sierra Leone has likened the incumbent President Julius Maada Bio to a Pharaoh, accusing him of presiding over a government that threatens and kills its opponents.
Dr Samura Kamara, the standard bearer of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) told thousands of his supporters in a packed stadium in the east end of the capital, Freetown on Monday that the ‘New Direction’ administration presided over by Bio was the “biggest” virus to have affected the country, which needed to be removed to put an end to the “suffering” of the masses.
“This virus is the biggest Sierra Leone has had to deal with. We call it Pharaoh virus…,” Kamara said at the Atuga Mini Stadium.
“Anybody who intimidates you, kills your brother, anybody who doesn’t take care of your life, who deprives you of your freedom to vote, your freedom to speak up, is Pharaoh, ” the former Foreign Minister added, citing the outcome of deadly riots in mainly opposition dominated parts of the country as demonstration of how the Bio administration deals with his opponents.
“We saw what happened to us in Tombo, what happened to us at the prison, in Tonko Limba, in Makeni, at Mile 91, it’s the tactics of the Pharaoh,” he said, adding that removing the SLPP government was the “only way to kill this virus.”
Kamara was speaking at an event the APC said was meant to officially present his manifesto to the people of Sierra Leone.
Earlier in the morning, he unveiled the document which, among others, promises to fix the country’s economy which has suffered in the last five years as illustrated by rising cost of living.
President Bio came to power in 2018 on the platform of revamping the country’s economy. He also promised to put an end to corruption, accusing his predecessor’s administration of misappropriating over a billion dollars through corrupt deals.
His critics though say not only has Bio failed to deliver on his promises, but that he has led the country to a worse situation.
Under his watch, the Leone has lost its value to foreign currencies, leading to rapid increase in the prices of basic goods and services.
Amid the economic woes, Bio’s opponents say he has trampled upon basic human rights.
Nonetheless, Kamara said there is a better prospect for the country and that it lies with electing him, appealing to Sierra Leoneans not to get discouraged or despair. He said he has the solution to the country’s woes, which include revamping the mining sector and reviewing the agriculture sector.
“We need to change the way we do agriculture. We will seat and plan properly with the farmers,” he said, adding: “To create jobs for the youths, the economy must grow.”
A total of 12 candidates are challenging the incumbent in the June 24 polls, which will also see eligible Sierra Leoneans vote for a new set of MPs, Mayor’s and Chairmen as well as councilors.
But the presidential contest already promises to be a repeat of the 2018 polls, pitting Kamara and Bio as the main challengers.
Kamara urged his supporters to come out early to cast their votes to avoid a repeat of the 2018 outcome which he blamed on procrastination by voters.
Kamara emerged second in the race that was concluded in a second round voting.
“What happened to us in 2018 should not reoccur. In 2018 we lost by 92, 000 votes. That was due to our carelessness,” he said, urging supporters to ensure turning up at the polling centers early this time round.