Fear of Political Violence Soars in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone dropped by 18 places on the Global Peace Index between 2018 and 2019, ranking now at No. 52 out of 163 countries, and is listed among the five sub-Saharan countries recording the worst deterioration due to political and economic instability. Political tensions have been fueled by recurrent conflicts between the two leading political parties before and after the March 2018 general elections, continuing with a violent clash of their youth supporters in January; the controversial annulment of the election of 10 opposition members of Parliament; and allegations that President Julius Maada Bio manipulates the judicial system. Unemployment is widely seen as contributing to the prevalence of crime in the country. The most recent Afrobarometer survey shows high levels of fear of political violence and intimidation and a dramatic increase in the perception that party politics lead to violence. But as of mid-2018, a majority of Sierra Leoneans were satisfied with the government’s efforts to prevent violence.