Julius Maada Bio
|5th President of Sierra Leone|
|Assumed office |
4 April 2018
|Vice President||Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh|
|Chief Minister||David J. Francis|
Jacob Jusu Saffa
|Preceded by||Ernest Bai Koroma|
|Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council|
16 January 1996 – 29 March 1996
|Preceded by||Valentine Strasser|
|Succeeded by||Ahmad Tejan Kabbah[a]|
|Deputy Chairman of the National Provisional Ruling Council|
June 1993 – March 1995
|Preceded by||Solomon Musa|
|Succeeded by||Komba Mondeh|
|Chief of the Defence Staff|
March 1995 – January 1996
|Head of State||Valentine Strasser|
|Preceded by||Kellie Conteh|
|Succeeded by||Joy Turay|
Julius Maada Wonie Bio
12 May 1964
Tihun, Bonthe District, Sierra Leone
|Political party||Sierra Leone People's Party|
|Residence(s)||State Lodge, Freetown|
|Branch/service||Sierra Leone Army|
|Years of service||1985–1996|
|Commands||Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces|
|Sierra Leone portal|
Julius Maada Wonie Bio (born 12 May 1964) is a Sierra Leonean politician, and the current president of Sierra Leone since 4 April 2018. He is a retired brigadier in the Sierra Leone Army and was the military head of state of Sierra Leone from 16 January 1996 to 29 March 1996, in a military junta government known as the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC).
As military head of state, Bio returned Sierra Leone to a democratically elected government, when he handed power to Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People's Party, following Kabbah's victory in the 1996 Sierra Leonean presidential election. Upon retiring from the military in 1996, Bio moved to the United States, where he was granted political asylum, and he did not visit Sierra Leone from the U.S until 2005.
As the candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), Bio defeated Samura Kamara of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) in the runoff vote of the 2018 Sierra Leonean presidential election with 51.8% of the votes to Kamara's 48.2%. International and local observers declared the election free and fair.[not verified in body] He succeeded Ernest Bai Koroma as president.
As the main opposition leader, Bio was a critic of his predecessor president Ernest Bai Koroma and his administration. As president, Bio has overturned most of the policies of Koroma, whom he accuses of corruption and mismanagement of the country's treasury, and the two men very rarely speak to each other.[not verified in body] A couple of senior government officials under former president Koroma have been arrested by the Sierra Leone Police and indicted by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Justice under president Bio on corruption related charges, including former Finance Minister and 2018 APC presidential candidate Samura Kamara, who lost the 2018 presidential election to Bio.[not verified in body] Bio's presidential actions included legislation for gender equality and to combat sexual violence. His government's handling of the economy was the target of a violent protest in August 2022.
Bio has a master's degree in international affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. Bio is also a Cadet graduate from Sierra Leone's Benguema Military Academy. Bio is a practicing Roman Catholic Christian, though his wife, Fatima Bio, is a practicing Muslim.
Julius Maada Wonie Bio was born on 12 May 1964, in Tihun, a village in the Sogbini Chiefdom, Bonthe District in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone. Bio was born three years after Sierra Leone's Independence during the administration of then Sierra Leone Prime Minister Sir Albert Margai of the SLPP. Bio is the 33 of 35 children born to Sherbro Paramount Chief Charlie Bio II of Sogbini Chiefdom. Bio's father had nine wives. Bio is named after his paternal grandfather Julius Maada Wonie Bio, who was also a Sherbro paramount chief of Sogbini Chiefdom. Bio is an ethnic Sherbro, and a practicing Roman Catholic.
Bio began his primary education at the Roman Catholic Primary School in Tihun, Bonthe District. After finishing his early years in primary school, Bio was sent to the town of Pujehun to live with his older sister Agnes, who was a primary school teacher in Pujehun. Bio completed his primary education at the Holy Family Primary School in Pujehun. After his primary education, Bio's older sister, Agnes, enrolled him at the Bo Government Secondary School in Bo (commonly known as Bo School), a prominent boarding school. Bio spent seven years at Bo School, rising to become school prefect. Bio graduated from Bo School in 1984 with A-level at age 20.
After graduating from secondary school, Bio applied for admission into Fourah Bay College in Freetown in 1985 at age 21. However, Bio ultimately enrolled in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces military academy at Benguema, just outside the capital city of Freetown. He trained as a cadet officer under the command of Major Fallah Sewa, the head of cadet training at the military academy.
Bio graduated from the Military academy as a Second Lieutenant in the Sierra Leone Army in October 1987 at age 23. His first post as a commissioned officer was at the Lungi Garrison in Port Loko District in 1987. Bio was later posted to Kambia District as part of the Economic Emergency Unit, created by President Joseph Saidu Momoh to combat smuggling and other crimes along the Guinean border. In 1988, Bio was again re-posted at Lungi and trained by United Nations forces in aviation security. After the training, Bio was transferred to Benguema as a platoon commander.
In 1990, the Sierra Leone Government contributed military personnel to the West African Peacekeeping Force, ECOMOG, which was mandated to keep the peace in the Liberian civil war. Bio and several other Sierra Leonean soldiers, including Captain Valentine Strasser, and Lt Solomon Musa were deployed to Liberia as part of Sierra Leone's contingent to ECOMOG. At the time, thousands of Liberians were fleeing to Sierra Leone weekly, exposing the country's fragile security and adding to the economic hardship.
After a year in Liberia as an ECOMOG soldier, the Sierra Leone Government ordered Bio and several members of Sierra Leonean soldiers serving in Liberia to immediately return to Sierra Leone and report to the army barracks in Daru, Kailahun District to populate newly formed 600 man battalion of soldiers set up by President Momoh to repel the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels who had attacked villages on the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia, in March 1991. The soldiers included future NPRC members Lieutenant Solomon Musa, Captain Valentine Strasser, Lieutenant Sahr Sandy, and Lieutenant Tom Nyuma.
Military coups and government
Participation in 1992 military coup
On 29 April 1992, Bio was one of a group of young Sierra Leonean soldiers including Captain Valentine Strasser, Lieutenant Sahr Sandy, Lieutenant Solomon Musa, Lieutenant Tom Nyuma and Captain Komba Mondeh that toppled president Joseph Saidu Momohs All People's Congress (APC) government in a military coup. The young soldiers formed the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) with Strasser as their leader and Head of State of Sierra Leone.
Bio's first appointment following the formation of the NPRC was as the Secretary of State South, stationed in the country's second capital Bo. He was later moved to Freetown to serve as Secretary of State in charge of Information and Broadcasting. At that point, he was promoted to Captain alongside other junior lieutenants. As a leading member of the coup that kicked out the APC government, Bio served as Supreme Council of State member throughout the NPRC's stay in power and when Strasser's deputy, captain S. A. J. Musa, was sacked and exiled to the UK, Bio was appointed to the position of Deputy Chairman of the NPRC.
1996 military coup
On 16 January 1996, Bio led a military coup, ousting Captain Valentine Strasser, following a dispute within the governing Supreme Council of State (SCS) over whether to seek peace with the RUF before multi-party elections, planned for March 1996, or go ahead with the election notwithstanding the ongoing war in the country, and the conditions for participation (or disqualification) of junta members in the elections.
The coup was backed by many high-ranking NPRC soldiers including Colonel Tom Nyuma, Lieutenant Colonel Komba Mondeh, Lieutenant Colonel Reginald Glover, Lieutenant Colonel Idriss Kamara, and Lieutenant Colonel Karefa-Kargbo. Captain Valentine Strasser, then the leader of the NPRC and the military Head of State of Sierra Leone, was handcuffed at gunpoint by his own military bodyguards who were supposed to protect him, and was immediately flown into exile in a military helicopter to Conakry, in neighboring Guinea.
After the military
After retiring from the military in 1996, Bio moved to the United States, where he earned a master's degree in International Affairs from American University in Washington, DC. He also served as the president of International Systems Science Corporation, a consulting and investment management firm based in the United States.
Political comeback and SLPP leadership
Bio officially became a member of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) in 2005. That same year, Bio sought the leadership of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) at its national convention in Makeni on 3 to 4 September 2005; he took third place, with 33 votes, behind Vice President Solomon Berewa, who received 291 votes, and Charles Margai, who won 34 votes. J.B. Dauda polled 28 votes.
On the night of 31 July 2011, fanatics within the SLPP forced their way during the SLPP convention and declared Bio as the SLPP's 2012 presidential candidate which was held at the Youyi Building in the heart of Freetown. In the national election, he faced off with President Ernest Bai Koroma of the ruling APC and was defeated, winning 37% of the vote, but established the SLPP as the only viable opposition party in Sierra Leone.
President of Sierra Leone (2018–present)
Julius Maada Bio was selected as President of Sierra Leone in a run-off election held 31 March 2018. He gained 51.8 percent of the votes, according to official results from Sierra Leone's National Elections Commission. He succeeded Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC who had been President since 2007, and who had to step down from his post having reached the constitutional term limit.
In his first month in office, Bio became the first Sierra Leonean president to introduce free education through executive order for primary and secondary school students in public schools throughout Sierra Leone, starting the next school year in the fall of 2018. Bio has also eliminated application fees for students in government-run public universities across Sierra Leone. Bio cancelled a China-funded four hundred million dollar loan agreement with the previous Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma to build a new international airport in Sierra Leone.
In his first two months in office, Bio opened an ongoing review and audit of all government mining contracts, ministry departments, and other government agencies in the immediate past government of Ernest Bai Koroma. In his first two months in office, Bio sacked all of Sierra Leone's ambassadors and permanent representatives abroad in the immediate past government of Ernest Bai Koroma. In his first two months in office, Bio appointed his cabinet ministers, including the appointment of an opposition leader, Charles Margai, who served briefly as the country's Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Bio's administration, led by his Chief Minister David J. Francis, issued an investigative report accusing former president Ernest Bai Koroma and his previous government of widespread financial corruption. The allegations against Koroma include stealing millions of dollars from government revenue, selling of state properties, selling significant amounts of a state mining company, stealing funds meant for the country's victims of Ebola and the mudslide; and stealing funds meant to help some poor Sierra Leonean Muslims to go on Hajj. On Bio's orders, the Sierra Leone Justice Ministry has set up a commission of judges, led by an international judge, to investigate the allegations against the previous government.
In February 2019, President Bio declared a state of emergency in Sierra Leone due to endemic sexual violence. He increased penalties for rape and other sexual violations. The state of emergency was rescinded that June.  In 2022, he announced that his cabinet unanimously supported a bill to expand access to abortion in the country. In January 2023, President Bio signed into law the Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Bill, requiring parliamentary and local council elections to include women as at least 30% of candidates.
Bio's opponents have criticized him about the country's poor economic conditions. In August 2022, anti-government protests, sparked by the country's cost of living crisis, called for Bio's resignation and resulted in several deaths. Bio considered the protests to be an insurrection aiming to overthrow the government. On 21 June 2023, days before the 2023 Sierra Leonean general election, another violent protest occurred outside the All People's Congress headquarters, resulting in at least one death.
President Bio attended the Global Education Summit in July 2021, and said on Twitter that he had "a zestful and productive meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson." He added that he "had a forward-looking and reassuring discussion on strengthening our relationship and building back better after COVID.". Bio was one of few heads of state invited "because of his efforts in increasing access to education through the Free Quality Education Programme and breaking down gender barriers to increase girls' enrolment in schools in the last three years." In March 2022, President Bio visited Vietnam.
In May 2023, Bio urged an end to the War in Ukraine "for the sake of humanity", stating that he believes "even those who sympathise with Russia are in favour of stopping this war". Amid his 2023 candidacy for reelection, Bio indicated that he hopes diplomacy led by African leaders can help broker an end to the war.
Bio was one of thirteen candidates in the 2023 Sierra Leonean general election. His main opponent is Samura Kamara of the All People's Congress. He was pronounced the winner with 56% of the vote. This pronouncement was criticized by local and international elections observers.
Maada Bio is an ethnic Sherbro and a practicing Roman Catholic Christian. Bio's wife, Fatima Bio, is a practising Muslim and a Gambian-Sierra Leonean national, though she grew up in Kono District in Sierra Leone; her mother was born in Kono District, Sierra Leone, and her father is a Gambian native. Bio and Fatima were married in 2013 in London in an interfaith wedding ceremony that was held in a church with later mosque prayer services in London. The couple have one child together that was born in London. Bio has three other children from a previous marriage, all born in the United States.
- as elected president
- Bradford alumnus and student elected as President of Sierra Leone – 2018 – News – University of Bradford
- Alexander, O. (21 May 2022). Julius Maada Wonie Bio (1964– ). "Global African History". www.blackpast.org.
- Gberie, Lansana (7 January 2011). "Maada Bio: A Profile Interview". The Patriotic Vanguard. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- Ganda, Ambrose (December 1995 – January 1996). "Captain Strasser Is Ousted From Office". Focus On Sierra Leone. Virgin.net. Archived from the original (Archived from the Original) on 22 February 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- Times Reporter (5 April 2018). "Bio, is new Sierra Leone president". The New Times (Rwanda). Kigali. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- Sierra Leone State House (5 September 2005). "Vice President Berewa Leads SLPP". The Republic of Sierra Leone, State House Online. Archived from the original (Archived from the Original) on 3 January 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone) (16 October 2017). "Sierra Leone: Opposition names ex junta head as standard bearer". APANews.net. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- Barry, Jaime Yaya (4 April 2018). "Sierra Leone's Opposition Leader Is Sworn In as President". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- "Nation stunned, as Sierra Leone's Attorney General Charles Margai is suddenly and shockingly fired by President Bio". Cocorioko. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
- Martin, Laura S.; Koroma, Simeon (30 January 2020). "Taking stock one year after Sierra Leone's gender violence 'emergency'". The Conversation. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
- "Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio Shares Aspirations with Vietnamese Counterpart, Addresses Official State Dinner Marking His Visit". The State House. 15 March 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
- Akinwotu, Emmanuel (6 July 2022). "Sierra Leone backs bill to legalise abortion and end colonial-era law". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
- "President Bio signs landmark gender equality law – opening doors for more women in parliament – Welcome to the Sierra Leone Telegraph". 22 January 2023. Retrieved 23 February 2023.
- Cham, Kemo; Mednick, Sam (18 June 2023). "Sierra Leone gears up for presidential election amid economic crisis, looming protests". The Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
- Roy-Macaulay, Clarence (10 August 2022). "Deadly anti-government protests erupt in Sierra Leone". [[Associated Press]. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
- Fofana, Umaru (13 August 2022). "Sierra Leone president says protests aimed to overthrow the government". Reuters. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
- Fofana, Umaru (21 June 2023). "Violence flares in Sierra Leone ahead of presidential vote". Reuters. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
- @PresidentBio (29 July 2021). "On the margins of the Global..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Thomas, Abdul Rashid (26 July 2021). "President Bio in London for Global Education Summit". The Sierra Leone Telegraph.
- "Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio and Delegation Sign Agreement With Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences". The State House. 20 March 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
- "Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio Arrives Vietnam to Discuss Bilateral Cooperation". The State House. 14 March 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
- "Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio Meets President Xuan Phuc, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Fisheries Sign MoU". The State House. 15 March 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
- "Sierra Leone: President Julius Bio urges end to Ukraine war for 'sake of humanity'". Africa News. 18 May 2023. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- Hoije, Katarina (10 June 2023). "Sierra Leone's Bio Hopes African Mission Can End Ukraine War". Bloomberg. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
- Samba, Sylvester (29 July 2019), "Liberia President decorates his Sierra Leonean counterpart", Yame.
- "Catholic church clears Maada Bio for tomorrow's state wedding, but more questions and cynicism provoked". Cocorioko. 20 February 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
- Thomas, Abdul Rashid (8 November 2013). "Sierra Leone's presidential hopeful-weds in London". Sierra Leone Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 October 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
- New president's promise to Sierra Leoneans As on 5 April 2018.