The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone is the head of state and the head of government of Sierra Leone, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. The President appoints and heads a Cabinet of ministers (including the Vice President), which must be approved by the Parliament. The President of Sierra Leone is addressed as His Excellency.

Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Wonie Bio is the current president of The Republic of Sierra Leone after winning the March 2018 presidential runoff elections. He is a Sierra Leonean politician who was the Head of State of Sierra Leone from January 16, 1996, to March 29, 1996. He is best remembered for initiating the peace process that brought back peace to a bitterly divided country, returning Sierra Leone to democracy and handing power to a democratically elected government.

He is also currently an active member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and was its presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential election.

Born on May 12, 1964, in Tihun, a village in the Sogbini Chiefdom, Bonthe District, in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, Maada is one of 35 children born to a Mende Paramount Chief, Charlie Bio II, of Sogbini Chiefdom.

Maada began his primary education at the Roman Catholic Primary School in Tihun. After finishing his early years in primary school, he was sent to the town of Pujehun where he completed his primary education at the Holy Family Primary School. He then enrolled at the Government Secondary School in Bo (commonly known as The Bo School) where he spent seven years. He graduated from Bo School in 1984.

After graduating from secondary school Maada enrolled in the Sierra Leone Armed forces military academy. He graduated from the Military academy as a Second Lieutenant in October 1987 at the age of 22. In 1990, he was deployed by the Sierra Leone Government as a member of the ECOMOG peacekeeping force to battle the rebels of the Liberian Civil War that were fighting to overthrow the Liberian Government. 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 Maada to immediately return to Sierra Leone and become a member of a 600 battalion of soldiers set up to squash a rebellion by rebels known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).

Maada 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 in September 2005, where he came third. On 31 July 2011, he won the election to become the SLPP’s 2012 presidential candidate at the SLPP convention in Freetown. 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.

Since the 2012 election, Bio has continued to work closely with his colleagues in the SLPP to provide a vocal and effective opposition in Sierra Leone.

In 2014 Bio launched the Maada and Fatima Bio Foundation. The objectives of this new charitable organization providing educational subsidies for disadvantaged children, skills training and enterprise development programs for deprived women and youths, assisting with the provision of basic healthcare services in needy communities and supporting rural community agricultural development programs.

Bio also remains a respected commentator on international affairs, with published articles in The Guardian and Huffington Post. Bio has also spoken on the key challenges facing Sierra Leone at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.

Maada is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. with a Masters Degree in International Affairs. He served as the President of International Systems Science Corporation (ISSC), a consulting and investment management firm based in the United States. He is also married with four children.

Currently a Senior  Research Fellow at the prestigious University of Bradford in the UK pursuing a PhD in Peace Studies.

The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone vests the legislative power in the Parliament. While the President is a part of Parliament the Constitution specifies that no Minister or Deputy Minister will be part of Parliament.  The Parliament itself consists of a total of 124 seats, 112 directly elected members from single member constituencies and 12 Paramount Chiefs from the 12 Districts of Sierra Leone. 

The Parliament is headed by the Speaker who shall be elected by the Members of Parliament from among persons who are-

Members of Parliament and who had served as such for not less than five years; or Qualified to be Members of Parliament and who had served as such for not less than ten years”. And who are not less than forty years. (Amendment of section 79 of Act No 6 of 1991)In his absence, the Deputy Speaker who is elected from amongst the Members of Parliament presides over the sittings of the House.Following the elections of November 2012, the third after the end of the civil war, only two parties are represented, namely, the A.P.C. (All Peoples Congress) and the S.L.P.P. (Sierra Leone Peoples Party). As of now, the House has 82 first time MPs and 14 Women Members.

The Judiciary of Sierra Leone is the branch of the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone which interprets and applies the laws of Sierra Leone to ensure impartial justice under law and to provide a mechanism for dispute resolution. The independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by the constitution.

The judicial system, headed by the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, comprises the inferior courts, represented by the Magistrates courts and the Local courts and the superior courts, represented by the High Court, the Court of appeal and the Supreme Court.

Magistrate's Court A Magistrate's Court exists for each judicial district with limited powers to do what is legally necessary to adjudicate on all civil and criminal matters arising within the district for which it is established. Such jurisdiction is exercised by the Magistrate duly appointed to the court.

Local Courts Local courts administer customary law in provincial communities outside the Western Area.

The High Court of Justice The High Court has supervisory jurisdiction over all inferior and traditional Courts in Sierra Leone.

The High Court consists of the Chief Justice and 9 puisne judges. A High Court hearing is duly constituted by any one judge of the High Court sitting with a jury.

The Court of Appea The Court of Appeal consists of the Chief Justice and not less than seven other justices. An Appeal Court hearing involves at least three justices of the Appeal Court. It hears appeals from lower courts.

The Supreme Court Main article: Supreme Court of Sierra Leone The Supreme Court has final jurisdiction in all civil, criminal, and constitutional cases within Sierra Leone and its decisions cannot be appealed. The Supreme Court has the exclusive constitutional power to overturn the rulings of lower courts within the jurisdiction. It also has exclusive original jurisdiction in matters relating to the enforcement or interpretation of any provision of the constitution and on whether an enactment has been made by Parliament or any other authority or person in excess of their power under the Constitution.

It consists of the Chief Justice and not less than four other justices. A Supreme Court hearing comprises not less than three justices of the Supreme Court.

Courts Martial Courts Martial are empowered to try any person subject to military law, in addition to offences against the general law which are applicable to all persons who join the army. They can convened by the Force Commander or any General, Brigadier or Colonel or Officer of corresponding rank. A Court Martial consists of the President and not less than two other Officers, or in the trial of an Officer or Warrant Officer, no less than five other Officers.

Appointment of Judges The Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Court are appointed by the President of Sierra Leone acting on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission subject to the approval of Parliament. They can retire after reaching the age of 60 but must retire at the age of 65. They may be removed from office at any time in the event of misconduct or infirmity.

Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
  • conventional short form: Sierra Leone
  • local long form: Republic of Sierra Leone
  • local short form: Sierra Leone
  • etymology: the Portuguese explorer Pedro de SINTRA named the country "Serra Leoa" (Lion Mountains) for the impressive mountains he saw while sailing the West African coast in 1462

Government type:

presidential republic

Capital:

  • name: Freetown
  • geographic coordinates: 8 29 N, 13 14 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

3 provinces and 1 area*; Eastern, Northern, Southern, Western*<

Independence:

27 April 1961 (from the UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 27 April (1961)

Constitution:

several previous; latest in effect 1 October 1991; amended several times, last in 2013 (2016)

Legal system:

  • mixed legal system of English common law and customary law
  • International law organization participation:
  • has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship:

  • citizenship by birth: no
  • citizenship by descent only: at least one parent or grandparent must be a citizen of Sierra Leone
  • dual citizenship recognized: yes
  • residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage:

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

  • chief of state: President Ernest Bai KOROMA (since 17 September 2007); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government head of government: President Ernest Bai KOROMA (since 17 September 2007)
  • cabinet: Ministers of State appointed by the president, approved by Parliament; the cabinet is responsible to the president elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 17 November 2012 (next to be on 7 March 2018) election results: Ernest Bai KOROMA reelected president; percent of vote - Ernest Bai KOROMA (APC) 58.7%, Julius Maada BIO (SLPP) 37.4%, other 3.9%

Legislative branch:

  • description: unicameral Parliament (124 seats; 112 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 12 seats filled in separate elections by non-partisan members of Parliament called "paramount chiefs;" members serve 5-year terms)
  • elections: last held on 17 November 2012 (next to be held on 7 March 2018)
  • election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - APC 69, SLPP 43

Judicial branch:

  • highest court(s): Superior Court of Judicature (consists of the Supreme Court - at the apex - with the chief justice and 4 other judges, the Court of Appeal with the chief justice and 7 other judges, and the High Court of Justice with the chief justice and 9 other judges; note – the Judicature has jurisdiction in all civil, criminal, and constitutional matters
  • judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice and other judges of the Judicature appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (a 7-member independent body of judges, presidential appointees, and the Commission chairman) and subject to the approval of Parliament; all Judicature judges appointed until retirement at age 65
  • subordinate courts: magistrates' courts; District Appeals Court; local courts

Political parties and leaders:

  • All People's Congress or APC [Ernest Bai KOROMA]
  • Sierra Leone People's Party or SLPP [Somano KAPEN]
  • numerous other parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:

other: student unions; trade unions

International organization participation:

ACP, AfDB, AU, C, ECOWAS, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO (pending member), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNISFA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:

  • chief of mission: Ambassador Bockari Kortu STEVENS (since 28 March 2008)
  • chancery: 1701 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
  • telephone: [1] (202) 939-9261 through 9263
  • FAX: [1] (202) 483-1793

Diplomatic representation from the US:

  • chief of mission: Ambassador John HOOVER (since 4 November 4 December 2014))
  • embassy: Southridge-Hill Station, Freetown
  • mailing address: use embassy street address
  • telephone: [232] 99 1055 00
  • FAX: [232] 99 515 355

Flag description:

three equal horizontal bands of light green (top), white, and light blue; green symbolizes agriculture, mountains, and natural resources, white represents unity and justice, and blue the sea and the natural harbor in Freetown

National symbol(s):

lion; national colors: green, white, blue

National anthem:

  • name: "High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free"
  • lyrics/music: Clifford Nelson FYLE/John Joseph AKA
  • note: adopted 1961