FREETOWN: Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Koroma vowed to transform the fortunes of the war-scarred nation with more jobs and development after his convincing re-election victory.
Koroma swept to a second term with 58 percent of votes in a poll last week that observers praised as peaceful and transparent, triumphing over his main rival Julius Maada Bio who trailed with 37.4 percent.
By scoring more than 55 percent of the vote the incumbent managed to avoid a second round of voting.
Koroma was sworn in on Friday immediately after the results were announced. He called on all Sierra Leoneans, including Bio’s opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), to unite in moving the country forward. “The job at hand requires the goodwill and positive energy of the membership of all political parties,” he said.
“We will focus on creating jobs for the youths, and on training our youths to seize the immense employment opportunities we are creating in the construction, mining, agriculture and other sectors,” Koroma said. “We will continue with our infrastructural development programs; we will continue to attract investment; we will continue to fight corruption,” said Koroma.
The United States swiftly congratulated Koroma on his re-election, noting the democratic progress the west African country has made since the end of a civil war a decade ago.
“The people of Sierra Leone have made their voices heard,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
“This election demonstrates the progress that Sierra Leone has made in strengthening its democratic institutions since the end of the civil war in 2002,” Carney added, urging all parties to accept the election results.
However Koroma was heavily criticized during his campaign for his failure to crack down on graft.
The crucial test for the west African nation will be whether the ex-military leader Bio accepts the outcome. During the counting of the votes, he alleged fraud and vowed that he would not let his supporters be cheated.