The United States continues to be concerned about irregularities in the June 24 presidential election in Sierra Leone. International observers noted "statistical inconsistencies" and condemned a "lack of transparency” in the voting. President Julius Maada Bio was declared winner of the presidential race with 56 percent of the vote in the first round, while his Sierra Leone People’s Party won an overwhelming majority in the House of Parliament.
Opposition candidate Dr. Samura Kamara got 41 percent of the vote. He has refused to participate in the government and has demanded a re-run of the election.
Following the flawed vote, the United States called on the Sierra Leone government to institute an independent, outside investigation of the elections process and integrate observer recommendations to improve future elections.
“The United States is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Sierra Leone and around the world,” declared Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement. Toward that end, he announced a new visa restriction policy under the Immigration and Nationality Act for undermining the democratic process in the June 2023 Sierra Leone election.
Under this policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Sierra Leone, including through the manipulation or rigging of the electoral process; intimidation of voters, election observers, or civil society organizations through threats or acts of physical violence; or the abuse or violation of related human rights in Sierra Leone. Family members of such individuals may also be subject to these restrictions. Persons who undermine the democratic process in Sierra Leone - including in the lead-up to, during, and following Sierra Leone’s 2023 elections - may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.
The visa restriction policy will apply to specific individuals and is not directed at the Sierra Leonean people. “This decision,” said Secretary Blinken, “reflects the commitment of the United States to support Sierra Leoneans’ aspirations to have free and fair elections that demonstrate the will of the people and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.”