A former military commander and coup leader who later went to graduate school in the United States and Britain was declared the winner of Sierra Leone’s presidential runoff on Wednesday after a campaign season marred by reports of violence and irregularities.

The winner, Julius Maada Bio, was immediately sworn in as the country’s president on Wednesday night. The country’s chief justice, Abdulai Charm, said the inauguration needed to be held quickly to avoid a power vacuum and was in compliance with the country’s Constitution.

In a short speech by his Excellency, He thanked all his supporters and family for their unwavering support to bring change to Sierra Leone and thanked all those who voted for him and those who did not and asked all Sierra Leoneans for unity and their cooperation to bring change by way of the New Direction agenda set by his team. He lso thanked the outgoing president and competitors.

“We have only one country, Sierra Leone, and we are all one people.”

“This is the dawn of a new era. The people of this great nation have voted to take a new direction,” Maada Bio said in a speech following the short ceremony in which he made an appeal for national unity.

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