Sierra Leoneans will head to the polls today to vote for a successor to Ernest Bai Koroma, who is bowing out after having served two terms.
Samura Kamara of the ruling All Peoples Congress and Julius Maada Bio of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party are regarded as the frontrunners for the presidency, though polling is limited.
Still, whoever gains the presidency today will inherit a difficult position. Living conditions in Sierra Leone remain poor after the Ebola virus ravaged the country four years ago and a mudslide occurred in the capital of Freetown last year, which took hundreds of lives. While the economy grew by some 5% last year, Sierra Leone’s next president will also need to grapple with inflation, currently at 19%, and elevated levels of youth unemployment.
Immediately on the agenda will be addressing IMF concerns, which last month delayed a $224 million payout to the country in response to taxation anomalies. With the IMF demanding that Sierra Leone remove subsidies on fuel and rice, and potentially spiking their costs, the next president could be unpopular from the outset.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.