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Ernest Bai Koroma (born October 2, 1953) is the fourth and current President of Sierra Leone. He was sworn in as President on 17 September 2007 shortly after being declared the winner of a tense run-off in the 2007 Sierra Leone presidential election with 54.6% of the vote over the incumbent Vice President Solomon Berewa who gain 45.4% and conceded defeat. International and local observers assessed the election as free, fair and credible. Koroma succeeded the outgoing president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah who was ineligible to run due to term limit.
Koroma is the leader of the ruling All People's Congress (APC) party and had previously served as the APC minority leader in the Parliament of Sierra Leone representing his home district of Bombali from May 2002 until his election to the Presidency of Sierra Leone on September 17, 2007. He is a 1976 graduate of the Fouray Bay College with a degree in economics and Business Management.
His presidency has been marked by continued rebuilding efforts following the brutal Sierra Leone Civil War, attempts to fight corruption, close relations with the United Kingdom—the nation's largest foreign donor—and the promise of future moves to a more free-market model..
Koroma is the first Sierra Leonean Head of State from the Temne ethnic group and the second Sierra Leonean president from Northern Sierra Leone (after Joseph Saidu Momoh, also a native of Bambali). Koroma speaks four languages: English, Krio, Temne, and Limba. His support is mainly based in the North and the Western Area of Sierra Leone.
Ernest Bai Koroma was born on October 2 1953, in Makeni, Bombali District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Koroma was born of Christian parentage from the predominant Muslim north and a devout Christian himself. Koroma is the eldest son of seven children. His middle name Bai means Chief in his native Temne language.
Koroma's father Bai Koroma, Sr was an ethnic Temne from Makeni and was a prominent supporter of the APC Administration under president Siaka Stevens. Koroma Sr was also a member of the all APC Bombali District Council in the late 1960's and early 1970's. His mother, maddam Alice Koroma is an ethnic Limba from the small rural town of Kamabai, Bombali District. Alice Koroma is a graduate of Njala University in Njala, Moyamba District with a degree in English language and literature.
Maddam Alice has spent almost her entire career as a primary school teacher in Makeni. Koroma is considered an ethnic Temne due to his father's ethnic group..
Koroma attended the Sierra Leone Church Primary School in Makeni, and then proceeded to the Sierra Leone Government Secondary School for Boys in Magburaka, Tonkolili District, about 25 miles (34 kilometers) outside Makeni. He attended Fourah Bay College in Freetown, from which he graduated in 1976 with a degree in Arts.
Soon After graduating from the Fourah Bay College in Freetown in 1976, Koroma was employed as a teacher at the St. Francis Secondary School in his hometown of Makeni. He joined the Sierra Leone National Insurance Company in 1978 until 1985. In 1985, he joined the Reliance Insurance Trust Corporation (Ritcorp), and in 1988, he became Managing Director of Ritcorp, remaining in that position for 14 years.
On July 20, 2008, jubilinat APC supporters greeted president Koroma in Makeni as he arrived to officially open a school named after his mother as the ‘Madam Alice Koroma Community Primary. in Makeni.
Koroma is married to Sia Nyama Koroma, a biochemist and an ethnic Kono from Kono District. Sia Koroma holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Chemistry and a Masters in Biochemistry. She is also a Psychiatric Staff Nurse trained and qualified in Great Britain. The couple were married on October 18, 1986 at the King Memorial UMC Church in Freetown . Together they have two daughters, Alice and Danke Koroma. The first daughter Alice Koroma was born in Freetown and she is named after Maddam Alice Koroma, the mother of Ernest Bai Koroma. The second daughter Danke Koroma was born in London and she is named after Danke Evelyn Koroma, the mother of Koroma's wife Sia Nyama Koroma. Both of his daughters are attending university in the United Kingdom.
In January, 2002 it was announced that the All People's Congress (APC) would hold their convention to elect a new leader that would challenge president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP who faces re-election for a second five year term. Ernest Bai Koroma, then an Insurance broker from the northern district of Bombali who was virtually unknown in Sierra Leone announced his candidacy for the leadership of the All People's Congress (APC) ahead of the 2002 Sierra Leone presidential and parliamentary elections. He was one of seven candidates for the APC leadership.
Koroma was a clear underdog to long time APC leader Edward Turay who was the favorite and was expected to easily win the APC leadership yet again. Koroma stressed that under the APC leadership of Edward Turay, the party had lost a significant number of seats in parliament and had lost trust among Sierra Leoneans, even in its traditional stronghold in Northern Sierra Leone. Koroma said the party will continue to lose even more support unless the party moves to a new direction that will care more about the interest of Sierra Leoneans.
Koroma was elected leader of the All People's Congress (APC) on March 24, 2002, at a national convention of the party held in the northern town of Kabala, Koinadugu District ahead of the 2002 Sierra Leone Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. Koroma received received 370 votes from APC delegates, while 12 delegates voted against him and the remainder abstained..
In the 2002 Sierra Leone presidential election Koroma received 22.3% of the vote as the APC presidential candidate, losing in a landslide to incumbent President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), who received 70.1% and was shortly sworn in for a new five year term. In the parliamentary election, Koroma was elected to a seat from Bombali District.