Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio has described anti-government protests in the country as acts of terrorism instigated by agitators living abroad.
About 130 people have been arrested in the demonstrations in the capital, Freetown, and in the opposition’s northern stronghold over the high cost of living, corruption and police brutality.
President Bio, who had travelled out of the country, has returned and told the BBC that the protests had a political motive.
“Of course what happened yesterday was definitely not a protest, it was terrorism at the highest. We have a few Sierra Leoneans who live in the diaspora who have threatened to unleash terror in Sierra Leone,” he said.
“There is politics underneath all that is happening and you can’t take that away,” he added.
Calm has returned to Freetown, the president said, and security forces have been deployed to make sure that there is no further deterioration in the situation.
He acknowledged that there were underlying concerns affecting citizens.
“Definitely there is hardship, most of the youth are unemployed. We do sympathise with their situation and as a government we have done quite a lot to address that situation,” he said.