In Sierra Leone’s 2018 elections, opposition leader Julius Maada Bio won a narrow victory.Several fake news stories started online, but soon spread far and wide offline, duping even senior officials.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s warning, made on his first and last official visit to Africa, that “African countries” should be careful not to “forfeit their sovereignty” in their dealings with China
Solidarity with China and its people has taken root in Koroma’s party, the APC. Photos taken during a campaign rally in the country’s interior show ethnically Chinese men openly campaigning with local APC candidates, wearing APC clothing. Much of the APC merchandise – cups, fans, T-shirts and banners – was made by Chinese companies. A new seven-storey APC headquarters was constructed recently in downtown Freetown by a Chinese construction firm.A stir was caused recently by footage of ethnically Chinese men campaigning alongside the APC in full party uniform, raising the issue of direct partisan involvement by China in Sierra Leone’s political process. This is but the latest in a long string of such incidents confirming the close relationship between the APC and the ruling Communist Party in China. In 2017 construction began on a seven story “Friendship Building” donated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the APC and earlier this year at an APC rally supporters could be heard chanting “We are Chinese! We are Chinese!”, an expression of support for the country that has poured vast amounts of resources into Sierra Leone.
Under President Ernest Koroma, Chinese investment in Sierra Leone has significantly expanded. Under Koroma’s headship, Chinese resources have been poured into a new freeway system, a hospital, and a $318 million airport. It is the last of these investments that has received particularly sharp criticism. Both the World Bank and the IMF have criticized the project, suggesting that this hugely expensive project is a poor use of resources when Sierra Leone is still recovering from a devastating Ebola outbreak. It is projects like this that informed Tillerson’s criticism of China’s “predatory loan practices” in Africa.
The WhatsApp rumours that infused Sierra Leone’s tight election