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Why President Julius Maada Bio’s support for former president Valentine Strasser went viral

The act of incumbent presidents instituting support initiatives for their predecessors is not new. However, the history between current Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio and former President Valentine Esegragbo Melvin Strasser makes it an interesting development.

Local reports indicated that the country’s current President Bio has supported a successful medical surgery and physiotherapy for former President Strasser in Ghana. In addition, the President handed over keys to a newly constructed modern three-bedroom house as a permanent resident of the former president in a grand reception at the presidency.

The then Captain Valentine Strasser made the current President his deputy after seizing power in Sierra Leon to become the world’s youngest Head of State. The coup which toppled the regime of President Joseph Saidu Momoh in April 29, 1992, occurred just three days after the 25th birthday of Capt. Valentine Strasser.

According to historical reviews, Strasser matched young soldiers to the statehouse in protest against poor conditions and lack of supplies to fight battles. This mere protest degenerated into the coup which made him leader of Sierra Leon. 

Julius Maada Bio’s and Valentine Strasser

Even though the young leader was praised for his utmost display of courage at a very young age, coupled with some tough initiatives and economic reforms such as slashing of civil service rolls by one-fourth and also drastic reduction in inflation from 115% annually to less than 15%, reduction in crime, etc., he did not last in power as long as expected.

After just four years in power, young Strasser was also overthrown by a coup led by his own Deputy Julius Maada Bio, who is the current Sierra Leonean President in January 1996. Reports have it that members of his own military junta were not happy with how he handled the country.

The coup marked the beginning of the downfall of Strasser. The former President’s story changed from a once celebrated national hero to a man reported by local media to be “living a poor life which does not depict that of an ex-president.” The support from his one-time closest enemy will come as a big relief to him at this particular stage of his life.

Bio, who resigned as head of state following a three-month transition period. After leaving the military in 1996, Bio relocated to the United States, where he went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from American University in Washington, DC. In addition, he served as President of International Systems Science Corporation, a consultancy and investment management company headquartered in the United States of America.

In a run-off election conducted on March 31, 2018, Julius Maada Bio was elected President of Sierra Leone. According to official results from Sierra Leone’s National Elections Commission, he received 51.8 percent of the vote. He took over from Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC, who had served as President since 2007 but had to step down because he had exceeded the constitutional term limit.

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