Julius Maada Bio (born May 12, 1964) is a Sierra Leonean politician, and the current president of Sierra Leone since April 4, 2018. He is a retired Brigadier General in the Sierra Leone Army and was the military Head of State of Sierra Leone from January 16, 1996, to March 29, 1996 in a military Junta government. As the candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, Bio defeated Samura Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress in the runoff vote of the 2018 Sierra Leone presidential election with 51.8% of the votes to Kamara’s 48.2%. International and local observers declared the election free, fair and credible. Bio 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 Ernest Bai Koroma, whom he accuses of corruption.
Bio was the SLPP presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but he received 37% of the vote as he was defeated by the incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma who won 58% of the votes. As the 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 Leone 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 when his safety in the country was guaranteed by then Sierra Leone president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Bio has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C.. Bio is also a cadet graduate from Sierra Leone’s prestigious Benguema Military Academy. Bio is a practicing Roman Catholic Christian, though his wife, First Lady Fatima Bio is a practicing Muslim.
He spent several years in the UK, where he was a student and senior research fellow at the University of Bradford: completing a Masters Degree in research methods and beginning a PhD in peace studies before returning to Sierra Leone to focus on his election campaign.
Julius Maada Bio was elected 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.