Julius Bio takes oath, promises new era in Sierra Leone

It is a new dawn for Sierra Leone, its new president, Julius Maada Bio, has said.
Bio, a former military junta leader, was sworn in as Sierra Leonea��s new president midnight on Wednesday a few hours after the countrya��s elections commission declared him winner of the tight run-off poll.
He now faces the difficult task of rebuilding the impoverished economy of the country that was dragged down by the worlda��s deadliest Ebola epidemic and a global slump in commodity prices.
Representing the Sierra Leone Peoplea��s Party (SLPP), Maada Bio won 51.81 per cent of votes cast in the March 31 poll, according to results announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Wednesday.
He defeated former foreign affairs minister and ruling All Peoplea��s Congress (APC) candidate, Samura Kamara, who had held a slight lead based on partial results earlier in the day but in the end garnered 48.19 per cent.
Dressed in traditional white robes, 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.
a�?This is the dawn of a new era. The people of this great nation have voted to take a new direction,a�? he said in a speech after the short ceremony in which he made an appeal for national unity.
a�?We have only one country, Sierra Leone, and we are all one people,a�? he added.
According to Reuters, Bio, who briefly ruled Sierra Leone as head of a military junta in 1996, replaces outgoing President Ernest Bai 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, who in the 1990s endured a brutal civil war fuelled by the diamond trade and notorious for its drug-addled child soldiers and punitive amputations.
SLPP supporters packed into the NEC headquarters on Wednesday, and following the announcement of the election results party officials urged the Bioa��s backers to remain calm.
a�?Celebrate responsibly. Do not disturb your neighbour. It is victory for all men, not victory for some. Everyone in, no one out,a�? the partya��s campaign manager, Ali Kabba said.
His supporters, confident of victory, sang and danced in the streets of Freetown on Wednesday evening hours before Bio was officially declared the winner.
a�?I feel happy about the results. I am here because my president Julius Maada Bio has won the election in this country,a�? said Adolfus Kargbo, among a group of SLPP supporters chanting Maada Bioa��s name.

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