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Sierra Leone president has PhD in coups, says First Lady

Fatima Bio, the wife of Sierra Leone’s president, Julius Maada Bio, has said her husband holds a PhD degree in staging coups therefore nobody can overthrow him.

She was referring to the violent protests of 10 August in opposition strongholds which left 31 people killed including six police officers.

The president blamed the protests – which were generally about the high cost of living – on the opposition alleging that they were part of a plot to overthrow him, leading to the dismissal of the top three in the army.

Speaking over the weekend at a fundraising event in the US, Mrs Bio accused unnamed people of wanting to overthrow her husband.

“Maada Bio has a PhD in coup d’état, can you remove him?” she asked rhetorically, before reiterating: “The man has a PhD in [staging] coups, how can you remove someone who teaches people how to stage a coup?,” the first lady said in a video shared on Facebook.

Mrs Bio was making an apparent reference to the fact that her husband first came to power in April 1992 as part of a group of young military officers who overthrew the civilian government of Joseph Saidu Momoh of the All People’s Congress, the party he defeated at the polls in 2018 and whom he accused of being behind the August protests.

The opposition party vehemently denied the allegations.

Many have condemned the statement with some of the moderate elements within her Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) condemning it.

Mrs Bio, a prolific user of Facebook and TikTok, has been known to make controversial comments.

She has not responded to the reactions following her coup comments, nor has anyone at the presidency.

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