The Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) has elected a new president, after three years of delay caused by rancor among football stakeholders.
Thomas Daddy Brima was elected on Saturday at the end of a much anticipated congress of the FA.
But the elective congress which was held in the northern town of Makeni had been shrouded in rumors of political interference, after a favourite of the contest withdrew from the race.
Rodney Michael, a leading football administrator, announced the withdrawal of his candidature a day before the congress, a day after a local media report indicated that he had been forced to step down by the administration of President Julius Maada Bio.
Mr Michael’s withdrawal also came a day after he was cleared to contest the presidency by the Court of Arbitration for Sports, which ruled in his favour in an appeal against his disqualification by the Ethics Committee of the FA.
Football stakeholders and fans hope that Saturday’s development marks the beginning of a new era for the sport, which had been shrouded in conflict for most part of the last eight years.
The new SLFA president, Brima, is an ally of the incumbent president Isha Johansen, who also withdrew her candidacy in the last minutes.
Ms Johansen, Africa’s first elected female FA president, had been at the helm of the SLFA since 2013. But her tenure was characterised by conflicts, amid allegations and counter allegations of corruption and maladministration. It led to the halting of football activities for years.
She had been accused of deliberately delaying the congress by repeatedly postponing it to avoid an election she was likely to lose. Clashes between her and successive governments led to threats of FIFA sanctions against Sierra Leone.
In a statement announcing the decision to step down, Johansen said she had to concentrate on her new role as a FIFA Council member which requires her to play “a higher level and more active role” as global ambassador for football.
Johansen was also recently elected in the executive of the African football governing body, CAF.