Sierra Leone. President Julius Bio calls for an end to the war in Ukraine for ‘humanity’

Sierra Leone’s president expressed hope in an AFP interview that a recently announced African reconciliation effort would end Russia’s war in Ukraine “for the benefit of humanity”. “We all suffer because of the war in Ukraine… For the sake of humanity, for what is happening, stop the war,” said President Julius Maada Bio, who was elected in 2018 and will run for a second term next month, said. “I think even those who sympathize with Russia are in favor of stopping this war,” he said in the interview Wednesday.

The leaders of Zambia, Senegal, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Egypt and South Africa will launch a delegation to Moscow and Kyiv next month to try to broker peace. African countries, already struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, are now heavily affected by the war and its impact on supply chains and prices.

African nations were divided at the United Nations over the conflict, but Sierra Leone voted alongside Western nations in favor of resolutions condemning Russia’s actions. Last July, Sierra Leone slashed its currency by 3 zeros in the hope of restoring confidence in the Leone unit that was hit by inflation.

In August, riots broke out due to the rising cost of living and 27 civilians and 6 police officers were killed. “We have a vested interest in ensuring that this war ends as soon as possible… especially as a country that has been through war but also (because of) the impact on us,”

Bio said Sierra Leone’s mineral-dependent economy is still recovering from the devastating civil war of 1991-2002 and the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Bio, 59, elected in 2018, also outlined a plan to end the country’s reliance on food imports and foreign aid. “It’s not fun to beg in countries, when you say you’re a sovereign nation,” he said. “I believe we can do enough to develop our own resources.”

He said agriculture would be a priority for a second term, pledging “a serious policy change within the Department of Agriculture to be able to produce our staple food, to the point where we will no longer need imported rice’ again.

The West African nation of 8 million people will hold presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections on June 24.

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