Close, contested but credible? Sierra Leone’s 2023 elections
Incumbent President Julius Maada of Sierra Leone Bio won the June 2023 presidential election with 56.2%, continuing a trend since 2002 where incumbents secure first-round wins. This margin just exceeded the 55% threshold for outright victory, substantially beating his main rival, Samura Kamara of the APC, by 15%. In parallel parliamentary and local council elections, the SLPP won 81 of 135 seats and controlled 12 of 22 districts. The APC contested these results, backed by international observers questioning credibility. The APC chose not to legally challenge but boycotted national and sub-national legislatures, demanding new elections after key resignations, including from the ECSL. Despite unlikely outcomes, this undermines Sierra Leone's democratic credibility. Across West Africa, military coups ousted elected leaders, and Senegal limited opposition. The 2023 Nigerian elections remain contested. Uncertainties about the June 27 results persist due to no legal challenges. The APC's non-participation hampers accountability, deepening ethno-regional divisions and eroding institutional independence perception, endangering legitimacy. Sierra Leone's peaceful power transfers since 2002 offer hope. Yet, a shrinking civic space challenges this. Sierra Leone's 2023 Freedom in the World index fell, reflecting reduced room for protest and criticism in 5 years.
Sierra Leone's Fake News Econsystems: An Overview
In January 2020 internet penetration in Sierra Leone was 25% and there were an estimated 700,000 active social media users, with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp the most used applications. These new media platforms act as both sources and enablers of fake news.