Julius Maada Wonie Bio is a Sierra Leonean politician who was the Head of State of Sierra Leone from January 16, 1996 to March 29, 1996. He is best remembered for initiating the peace process that brought back peace to a bitterly divided country, returning Sierra Leone to democracy and handing power to a democratically elected government.
He is also currently an active member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and was its presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential election.
Born on May 12, 1964 in Tihun, a village in the Sogbini Chiefdom, Bonthe District, in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, Maada is one of 35 children born to a Mende Paramount Chief, Charlie Bio II, of Sogbini Chiefdom.
Maada began his primary education at the Roman Catholic Primary School in Tihun. After finishing his early years in primary school, he was sent to the town of Pujehun where he completed his primary education at the Holy Family Primary School. He then enrolled at the Government Secondary School in Bo (commonly known as The Bo School) where he spent seven years. He graduated from Bo School in 1984.
After graduating from secondary school Maada enrolled in the Sierra Leone Armed forces military academy. He graduated from the Military academy as a Second Lieutenant in October 1987 at the age of 22. In 1990, he was deployed by the Sierra Leone Government as a member of the ECOMOG peacekeeping force to battle the rebels of the Liberian Civil War that were fighting to overthrow the Liberian Government. At the time, thousands of Liberians were fleeing to Sierra Leone weekly, exposing the country’s fragile security and adding to the economic hardship.
After a year in Liberia as an ECOMOG soldier, the Sierra Leone Government ordered Maada to immediately return to Sierra Leone and become a member of a 600 battalion of soldiers set up to squash a rebellion by rebels known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
Maada officially became a member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in 2005. That same year, Bio sought the leadership of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) at its national convention in Makeni in September 2005, where he came third. On 31 July 2011, he won the election to become the SLPP’s 2012 presidential candidate at the SLPP convention in Freetown. He faced off with President Ernest Bai Koroma of the ruling APC and was defeated, winning 37% of the vote, but established the SLPP as the only viable opposition party in Sierra Leone.
Since the 2012 election, Bio has continued to work closely with his colleagues in the SLPP to provide a vocal and effective oppostiion in Sierra Leone.
In 2014 Bio launched the Maada and Fatima Bio Foundation. The objectives of this new charitable organization providing educational subsidies for disadvantaged children, skills training and enterprise development programs for deprived women and youths, assisting with the provision of basic healthcare services in needy communities and supporting rural community agricultural development programs.
Bio also remains a respected commentator on international affairs, with published articles in The Guardian and Huffington Post. Bio has also spoken on the key challenges facing Sierra Leone at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.
Maada is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. with a Masters Degree in International Affairs. He served as the President of International Systems Science Corporation (ISSC), a consulting and investment management firm based in the United States. He is also married with four children.
Currently a Senior Research Fellow at the prestigious University of Bradford in UK pursuing a PhD in Peace Studies.