Notice: register_sidebar was called incorrectly. No id was set in the arguments array for the "Sidebar 1" sidebar. Defaulting to "sidebar-1". Manually set the id to "sidebar-1" to silence this notice and keep existing sidebar content. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 4.2.0.) in /home/cocorioko/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 4041
COCORIOKO » 2010 » March

Archive for March, 2010

At the UN: Sierra Leone receives high commendation for being a “Success Story”

Monday, March 29th, 2010

At the UN: Sierra Leone receives high commendation for being a “Success Story” thumbnail

The halls of the United Nations Headquarters in New York are reverberating with praise and pats on the back for Sierra Leone as the once war-torn country  has been declared a success story in Africa in the significant areas of good governance, political tolerance, strong commitment to fight corruption and drug trafficking and her pursuit of praiseworthy peacebuilding initiatives  . Commendation for Sierra Leone hit the roof  during a week of sessions on the UN Peace building Sierra Leone Specific Configuration. Infact, due to her success, Sierra Leone has been invited by Austria to become a co-founder of the International Committee For the Fight Against Corruption, which represents international recognition and a major boost for President Ernest Koroma’s no-nonsense stance towards corruption. (Photo: President Ernest Bai Koroma, whose leadership is impressing the international community)

It all started on Monday March 15 when the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, released his Fourth Report on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL), pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1886 mandating him to submit a report on the activities of UNIPSIL every six months, a process that often leads to the extension of  the UNIPSIL mandate in Sierra Leone for another 12 months . The UN held a session on Monday to consider this report by the Secretary General and during the meeting Sierra Leone was praised by the Executive Representative of the Secretary General , Mr. Michael Von Der Schulenberg , the Chair of the Sierra Leone Country Specific of the Peacebuilding Commission , Mr.John McNee and representatives of stakeholders for her impressive strides in peace building.

The session came at the heels of  the return from Sierra Leone of a high-level UN delegation of the Peacebuilding Commission Sierra Leone Configuration  consisting of Permanent Representatives of Canada, Austria, Czech Republic, Republic of Korea ,Liberia ,Peru and the Focal Point of the PBC at the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission to the UN, Counselor Mannah Kpukumu,who conducted a field trip to the country to assess the situation on the ground ahead of the Secretary General’s Report.Â

Yesterday, the UN was debriefed by the Peacebuilding Commission Delegation on its observations during the last field trip at a session attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura.

The Chair of the occasion, Canada’s Permanent Representative,  Mr. John McNee, who also heads the UN Peacebuilding Sierra Leone Configuration , thanked the government of Sierra Leone and UNIPSIL for the welcome received. He said that the visit revealed the strong commitment of the Sierra Leone Government and stakeholders towards consolidating the peace .He disclosed that Sierra Leone remained a success story and that important steps had been taken in some priority areas for the consolidation of peace, viz: strong stand against corruption, drug trafficking and decentralization .He also lauded the formation of the Youth Commission as an important step to tackle youth unemployment. He also praised President Koroma’s commitment to inclusive governance as indicated by his appointment of a key member of the opposition, Professor Septimus Kai-Kai to head the newly-reconstituted Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.

In his contribution, the Czech representative said that Sierra Leone has become a special case in the area of peace building. He however stressed the importance of the forthcoming 2012 elections and the need for the UN and stakeholders to synchronize their efforts with the political realities on the ground. UNIPSIL  must be able to respond to the situation that would soon be coming on the ground to avoid surprises. He lauded the regional approach to solve some of Sierra Leone’s problems because the regional elements were very important. While thanking the ERSG , Dr. Shulenberg, and the UNIPSIL Team for promoting dialogue among the political parties , he also stressed the importance of the regional emphasis and cooperation, especially within the context of the Mano River Union ( MRU), in fighting scourges like drug fighting.Â

Austria ‘s Representative said he was very impressed by Sierra Leone’s successes in the fight against corruption, drug trafficking and  gender inequality. He disclosed that the PBC delegation visited the ACC and the Commission exemplified the commitment of the country and President Koroma in combating corruption which has changed the perception index of the country by Transparency International. He announced that because of her achievements, Sierra Leone has been invited by Austria to become co-founder of the International Committee for the fight against Corruption.

The Representative of The Republic of Korea  said that the trip was a meaningful learning process and he was impressed by the great improvement Sierra Leone has made in fighting corruption and promoting human rights. He however drew attention to the problems of youth unemployment and distrust between political parties.He suggested integrated approaches involving the regional element and for brand-new ideas for funds and resource mobilization.

Burkina Faso ‘s Representative praised Sierra Leone for her efforts in promoting peace and  economic Growth  and ensuring an end to impunity. He also thanked bilateral and multilateral partners who have remained engaged in Sierra Leone.

The Liberian Representative said she came back enriched and impressed by the efforts being made by Sierra Leone to consolidate peace and security. She said that she saw lots of progress but also challenges that require more efforts to combat them. She suggested that the ACC and the Human Rights Commission must be nurtured and the International Community must provide support and guidance in this respect. She stated that women’s participation and women’s rights were lagging behind and that traditional law dominate in certain areas, thereby hindering the inclusion of women .She appealed to donors  to be more forthcoming and also called for sub-regional approaches in peace consolidation.

The Representative of Portugal remarked: “We all agree that Sierra Leone has become a success story and an important model for peace building” which he attributed to the commitment and determination of the country to succeed. He extends his thanks and appreciation to President Ernest Koroma for his efforts which are bound to succeed. He however suggested that youth unemployment, political issues and the brain drain should be addressed.He noted the remarkable progress done in Sierra Leone to promote political dialogue and advised that this be carried over to the 2012 elections. Drug trafficking, he too suggested, must be tackled regionally.Benin also emphasized the importance of regional efforts in peacebuilding and combatting drug-trafficking.

Bangladesh stressed the development of skills and technical know-how to tackle youth unemployment in Sierra Leone while Peru called for transnational approaches to deal with migration, integration and youth employment. Brazil ‘s representative said he was impressed by the fights to promote political dialogue and to combat corruption and drug-trafficking and disclosed that Brazil has identified areas for bilateral cooperation with Sierra Leone, especially the health sector.Â

Australia’s representative  initimated that Sierra Leone has become a success story and  his country was inspired by the hope Sierra Leone provides and impressed by the leadership she has demonstrated. Australia made a commitment that the country would help Sierra Leone. A team will be sent to Sierra Leone to determine the areas where help will be provided but the representative suggested the mining and extractive industries.Â

Nigeria’s representative noted Sierra Leone’s achievements in fighting corruption and drug-trafficking , which are problems his country is also fighting. He appealed for investment in Sierra Leone in the private sector and youth employment and he promised that his country remained available to help in pursuing the regional dimension of peacebuilding.Â

Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN, NY, USA

– See more at: http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/?p=6914#sthash.24xSJiVN.dpuf

Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura makes a strong and eloquent case for Sierra Leone at the UN

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura makes a strong and eloquent case for Sierra Leone at the UN thumbnail

An eloquent Mrs. Zainab Bangura, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone kept the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission’s Sierra Leone Country Specific  Configuration , stakeholders and delegates spellbound  last Friday as she made a strong  and powerful case for further assistance to her country as her government strives to strengthen gains made so far in good governance , transparent and accountable stewardship and post-war socio-economic and political reconstruction .

Mrs. Bangura was responding to questions posed by the Representative of the United States of America during a debriefing session by the Peacebuilding Commission delegation that had just completed a field trip to Sierra Leone to monitor events on the ground in advance of the Fourth Report of the UN Secretary General on the activities of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL), pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1886 mandating him to submit a report on the activities of UNIPSIL every six months, a process that often leads to the extension of  the UNIPSIL mandate in Sierra Leone for another 12 months .Â

The U.S Representative wanted to be enlightened on  three things : Firstly the  proposed  U.S.$46 million  ‘Joint Response to Youth Employment in Sierra Leone’  program to be financed  by the World Bank, the German Technical Cooperation and the UN ,which is projected to provide 160, 000 jobs for Sierra Leone’s youths ; Secondly, he wanted her to explain  how the PBC can geneer economic support for Sierra Leone and thirdly , he needed to know about the prospects in the mining and extractive industries in which  Australia plans to invest.

Responding to the questions and other matters raised by other representatives during the session, Zainab Bangura said that if one looked at President Ernest Koroma’s Agenda For Change,  He would notice that it has a great concentration on Agriculture. The unemployed and idle youths of Sierra Leone could find gainful employment there , if the necessary investment was made in that area. In an eloquent demonstration of Sierra Leone’s potentials for becoming self-sufficient in food production, the Foreign Minister told the session that Sierra Leone was blessed with rich,fertile and arable soil. “By investing in Agriculture, you will do a lot for my country. This is why President Koroma has prioritized agriculture.There are lots of potentials there”, she explained.  She said that the President has asked all Sierra Leoneans, including ministers and public officials,  to go back to the soil.” I too will be cultivating hundreds of acres “.She promised and assured the session that whatever investment was made in Agriculture in Sierra Leone would not go in vain.

Mrs.Bangura also stated that much-needed investment could be made in small business enterprises in Sierra Leone. She told the session that government had put in place structures that now ensure that business is conducted smoothly in the country. Government has removed all the red tapes and bureaucracies involved in registering business in Sierra Leone, she said. “You can now register a company in 48 hours”, she intimated.Â

Another useful area of investment in Sierra Leone is infrastructure, which could help to provide thousands of jobs for youth. She stated that President Koroma last told Parliament that his government “is a government of infrastructure.” The Minister said Sierra Leone was not only constructing or rehabilitating trunk roads, but feeder roads, which would enable farmers to bring their produce to towns. Poor roads, she said, made it difficult to achieve socio-economic growth and help given Sierra Leone to reconstruct her infrastructure would be highly appreciated.

The Foreign Minister also pointed to the airport and quay as areas that help is needed. Sierra Leone, she said, has one of the best natural harbours, which if fully developed, would bring tremendous revenue.  Government, she went on, was also planning to commercialize the airport. “We are talking to the Chinese to build us one of the best international airports. If we develop our ports, we can export our goods, as Sierra Leone has tremendous potentials.but all of these things we cannot do on our own .We need help.”

The minister said that another way Sierra Leone can grow is through development of private sector partnerships and she also appealed for help in that sector.Â

She gave a graphic picture of the high rate of rural-to-urban migration, which poses another serious problem and increases the frustration of lack of jobs. She said that a situation has been created where the village population in Sierra Leone consists of only old people as all the young had gone to the city. The middle level and the more productive are gone. They who should be working on the farms are no more. She advocated strongly for commercial farming which would be bring the young people back to the rural areas. She re-echoed the fact that  long-term investments in youth development and in agriculture and micro-credits would curb the problem of urban migration.

Mrs. Bangura also highlighted the brain drain in Sierra Leone.  She said that Sierra Leone produces doctors and nurses but she cannot retain them because she does not have money to pay them competing salaries and benefits like other countries. She also stated that Sierra Leone does not have the skilled personnel with the capacity to engage partners. The PBC, she appealed could help Sierra Leone create hope through an expansion of  training and opportunities .

She also called on the PBC to help Sierra Leone overcome bureaucratic delays and conditionalities to expedite donor contributions.  The country needs help also in getting non-traditional donors and in the coordination of donors.Â

Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister also called for help in the development of political parties. She indicated that Sierra Leone’s political parties were financially strapped and too tied to patrons. She stressed that undue attachments to patrons has an inimical effect on political parties as these patrons may want political pay for their support. She also appealed for vehicles to help political parties campaign better.Â

On the question of Sierra Leone’s mining and extractive enterprises, Mrs Bangura called for what she described as a supporting role  in the utilization of Sierra Leone’s natural resources . She informed the session that oil has been discovered in Sierra Leone and it will be known in a few months the commercial potentials of this resource .She warned that short-term profiteers would flood Sierra Leone and the country would need the engagement of development partners to solve this problem.

After Mrs. Bangura’s presentation, many delegates and representatives commended her for her powerful , insightful and eloquent answers.

The Chair of the Peacebuilding Sierra Leone Country Specific Configuration , Canada’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr. John McNee promised that the PBC will continue to be committed to Sierra Leone as she strives to consolidate peace and develop a strong economic base.

Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN, NY, USA

 

President Koroma launches the Sierra Leone Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve and its Watershed

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Written by Sheka Tarawallie Monday, 22 March 2010 06:11
Address by His Excellency the President
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
Launching of the Sierra Leone Western Area
Peninsula Forest Reserve and its Watershed
Friday March 19, 2010I feel honored to be here today to launch this all important project. Our country got its name from these lion shaped mountains. Preventing its destruction is equivalent to preventing our nation from catastrophe. These mountains provide water for the city of Freetown and its environs; these forests and mountains sloping down to the most beautiful beaches in the world would make our nation a prime touristic destination; these mountain are unique in West Africa, from Morocco to Cameroon, there is no other piece of land with mountains rising up to almost 1 km from sea level. But today these mountains, these forests, the streams and beaches are under a grave threat. Land grabbing, tree felling, illegal construction on steep slopes, uncontrollable sand mining and stone breaking are turning these protective mountains into disasters waiting to happen. The survival of Freetown, which contains over a quarter of our population, is on the line.

I have seen the destruction from the air, I have observed the devastation from the sea, driving through Freetown and the Peninsula I am alarmed by the level of deforestation and the possibilities of landslides and the washing away of coastlines by the sea. We must put a stop to this. We must reverse this trend. We must save the water sources of Freetown. Guma depends on these mountains; our development of the Orugu basin to provide water for the teeming population of the capital makes it imperative to conserve the peninsula. This EU funded project is an important step in this direction. It ties in with my government commitment to ensure an environmental turn-around in this country.

My government has initiated many actions to ensure an environmental turnaround. From the establishment of the Gola Forest Peace Park to the recent action to stop the export of Timber; from our actions to build mini-hydro electric projects to provide sustainable energy in all districts to our establishment of the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency, we are showing our commitment to bringing an environmental turn-around in this country. In 2009, I assigned my Vice-President to establish a Task Force for the protection of the Western Peninsula Forest and I also mobilized the Office of National Security (ONS) to support the Forestry Division in restricting further encroachments into the forest. Today we are re-affirming our commitment to turning around the environmental fortunes of our country by inaugurating the EU funded project for the “Conservation of the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve & its Watershed.”

I am therefore very keen in seeing the demarcation of the Forest Reserve taking place and zonal management plans being developed under this project.

I am equally looking forward in seeing the social benefits and rewards of sustainable resource management coming to the local communities and government. The creation of employment and income generation opportunities through alternative livelihood schemes, adapted technologies, energy efficient methods, and the promotion of eco-tourism, as foreseen under this project, is highly appreciated.

Furthermore, I am glad that the project plans to pilot pro-poor financing mechanisms for forest conservation, as outlined in the Copenhagen Protocol of the UN Conference on Climate Change in December 2009. The role of the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), and the need to provide positive incentives to such action is crucial, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.

Finally, environmental education and awareness creation has to be stepped up throughout the society, since only well-informed and responsible citizens will take care of safeguarding our forests for future generations.

I can assure you that me, and my government, are fully committed to the objectives of the project and the conservation of our last remaining natural forests. Let me also take this opportunity to applaud the EU and other partners for supporting our conservation initiatives. Together we can transform this country into a paradise of bio-diversity, eco-tourism, and sustainable environmental practices. WE must succeed; the survival of our capital city, our lion mountains and the entire country and the world depends on projects like this.

But let me also use this occasion to appeal to the big environmental polluters in the World to halt practices that degrade the global commons. The world is hotter than a decade ago; weather patterns are becoming more erratic, disturbing the livelihoods of millions of our farmers. Whilst we are inaugurating programs to ensure a sustainable environment, let us also work to ensure that countries like ours do not continue to reap environmental hazards we did not sow

I believe that together we can save the environment. Together we save the water sources of Freetown; together we can save our beautiful beaches, our crystal clear streams, and our bio-diversity. I thank you for attending this important event and I hereby officially launch the WAPFoR project.

Ambassador Toure’s statement at Security Council Public Debate on The Report of the Secretary General On the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Mission

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

STATEMENT  By H.E. MR. SHEKOU MOMODU TOURAY,  Permanent Representative of the Republic of Sierra Leone  to the United Nations At

The Security Council  Public Debate on The Report of the Secretary General

On the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Mission

In Sierra Leone ( UNIPSIL )

New York ,  22nd March 2010

Mr. President,

ambassadorshekoutouray

Please permit me , first of all, on behalf of my delegation,  to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of March  and to thank you for organizing this debate on  the  Fourth Report of the Secretary General  on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone ( UNIPSIL) . My delegation extends its sincere appreciation also to the Secretary General  for the comprehensive and well-coordinated report.   We also thank him for his excellent analysis of the current situation in Sierra Leone, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1886 (2009), mandating him to submit a report on the activities of UNIPSIL every six months.

 

 

I also take this opportunity to convey my gratitude to members of the Sierra Leone Country Specific Configuration, especially its Chair, Ambassador John McNee for his outstanding leadership. My gratitude also goes to the Executive Representative of the Secretary General, Mr.Michael Von der Schulenburg for his productive and inspiring briefing today and the skillful manner he is handling matters in Sierra Leone. On behalf of my delegation, I extend thanks and appreciation to the Peacebuilding Commission  and the Fund for their determined and untiring efforts to keep the process in full gear.

 

 

Mr. President ,

 

As we meet once again to consider the Review of the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Mission in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), a process designed to lead us to another extension of the UNIPSIL mandate for the next twelve months, I am gratified to note that significant progress is being made to combat the myriad of daunting challenges faced by the nation. Government remains fully committed to pursuing efforts aimed at consolidating peace and the promotion of sustained economic growth.

 

Mr. President , We concur with many of the issues raised by the Secretary-General in the Report before us.Laudable progress has been made in government’s commitment to promote good governance as evidenced by the strategic framework  and concerted actions that government continues to take to facilitate   the promotion of  human rights,  gender equality,  decentralization , transparency and accountability in government ,  and the crackdown on corruption,  drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime . Government is also determined to establish a culture of political tolerance among the country’s main political parties. These measures have led to a relatively peaceful political climate favorable for investments and improvement in the conduct of  trade and commerce throughout the country.

 

The joint communiqué signed by the two main political parties—The Opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP) and the ruling All People’s Congress ( APC) on April 29, last year — continues to encourage peaceful co-existence and dialogue among actors of the parties, despite the periodic incidents of minor clashes between the supporters of the two rival parties . The recent appointment of former SLPP Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Septimus Kai-Kai , as Chairman of the newly-constituted independent national broadcaster, the  Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation ( SLBC ) , is a manifestation of   government’s commitment towards  political tolerance and the building of  a strong democratic communications system. Sierra Leone also boasts today of  having one of the most vibrant and independent media system , with over 20 registered newspapers representing all shades of political and social persuasion. The present climate of freedom of the press in Sierra Leone is promoting open and inclusive dialogue about the future of the country.

 

Mr. President, the government has over the past months demonstrated its commitment to ensure transparent and accountable governance   by dismissing from service two more cabinet ministers and a number of public officials, including the Commissioner –General of the National Revenue Agency ( NRA ), after they were accused of corruption and abuse of office by the Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC ). President Ernest Koroma remains committed to the pledge he took on the assumption of office in 2007 that there would be no sacred cows in government and that any minister or official found wanting in  moral probity in the handling of the country’s meager resources would be relieved of his/her position and also made to  refund whatever he/she misappropriated in addition to facing  legal action . The ACC is relentless in its enforcement of the 2008 anti-corruption laws ,which are considered to be among the toughest in Africa. In recognition of government’s acknowledgement that corruption is a major threat to economic growth and prosperity , the ACC  has instituted 15 successful prosecutions and  recovered over 2 billion leones from stiff fines imposed on perpetrators ,and as  result that Sierra Leone moved 12 places up in the corruption perception index of Transparency International.

 

Government recently completed the Bumbuna Hydroelectricity Project,which in addition to restoring power to a nation that has been in darkness for over a decade , holds the  potential of providing  much-needed impetus to  socio-economic improvement as well as  improving  the quality of life of the people.

 

 

The government has also taken strong measures to improve security.  Joint Police-Military patrols, under the Military Assistance to Civil Power ( MACP) Act,  have been stepped up to tackle the spate of armed robbery in the city and  this has helped to improve the security situation considerably.

 

Government, in its  continued efforts to give relevance to the joint communiqué signed last year by the two main political parties,  continues to take effective measures to ensure  that  the injustices of the past that led to the destructive 11 year war  do not regain foothold in the society. In further attempts to get to the roots of the clashes between the SLPP and APC in Freetown last year, government has established an Independent Review Panel, composed of members nominated by both the SLPP and APC, to further investigate the clashes. The panel is presently in session and on conclusion of its sittings, will present its recommendations to government about measures needed to forestall a recurrence.

 

The showcasing of the Sierra Leone National Action Plan to eradicate gender inequality, discrimination and injustice, which was unveiled in the United Nations two weeks ago during the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)  Session,  was another major achievement by the country to address the injustices of the past and a giant step to ensure that abuse, violence and discrimination against women are no longer tolerated in our society. In addition, the Human Rights Commission has been doing its utmost to monitor and to bring awareness to the human rights situation in the country, especially those of women and children .

 

 

Mr. President, the Consultative Group meeting held on November 18 – 19 in London  on Sierra Leone was meant to foster and advance investor confidence in the country to generate wealth,  create employment for its youthful population, particularly through a re-energized private sector and the implementation of the Agenda for Change. The endorsement of the Aid Policy constitutes one of the major milestones of the Consultative Group meeting and the Government has reiterated its firm commitment to its full implementation.  We remain highly hopeful that partners will endeavour to scale up and deliver on their commitments in a timely and predictable manner.

 

 

 

Government has made such impressive strides that it also received  favourable ranking from the  Mo Ibrahim Government Index  for  being the most improved country in Africa in the area of governance over the past two years. In addition, recent World Bank study concluded that standards of governance , political stability and the ability of citizens to hold government accountable has improved  more significantly in Sierra Leone than many other countries around the world.

 

Mr. President, despite these magnificent strides to promote responsible and responsive governance as well as accelerate the wheels of socio-economic and political renaissance, government is aware of the fact that significant challenges still remain and they continue to undermine   its best efforts to improve the lives of its people.

 

One of the most thorny areas that continues to  require urgent attention from stakeholders and Sierra Leone’s development partners is youth unemployment. A significant percentage of youth continue to be unemployed, and this predicament poses a serious threat to efforts to consolidate peace and stability in Sierra Leone .

 

A Youth Commission has been established, though it is yet not operational. We commend the German Technical Assistance ( GTZ) for engaging the youth in some form of gainful employment in garbage disposal in the capital of Freetown . However, the urgent need for resource mobilization to more meaningfully tackle this nagging problem of youth unemployment cannot be overemphasized. In this respect, Mr. President, I wish to appeal to our development partners to honor their pledges and provide  not only the projected U.S. 350 million  needed by government to implement its Agenda For Change ,  but other resources and job-creation opportunities required to ameliorate this problem of youth employment .

 

 

 

 

 

 

My delegation also continues to believe that Sierra Leone’s peace and stability still remains at the mercy of sub-regional socio-political instability , as evidenced by the present political crisis in neighboring Guinea ,which has the potential to spill over into our country .While government continues working with  the Joint Drug Interdiction Task Force (JDITF) to make Sierra Leone drugs-free, the  narcotic trafficking menace in West Africa and organized cross-border crime also  remain real and require UNIPSIL’s continued engagement in Sierra Leone for many more years to come , especially with the fast approach of the 2012 Presidential, Legislative and local government elections.

 

 

Mr. President, let me conclude by reiterating our gratitude  the United Nations, our bilateral  partners and the international community at large for their continued engagement in Sierra Leone to ensure  maximum success in  socio-political and economic recovery and the consolidation of peace.  Let me take this opportunity to also reassure this august body of the determination of the Sierra Leone Government to work  cooperatively with the United Nations, our development partners and the international community to make sure that we surmount the many challenges facing us as a nation.

 

I thank you for your kind attention.

Sierra Leone’s Mining Accident was a false, vicious and wicked propaganda – Alpha Kanu

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Sierra Leone’s Mining Accident was a false, vicious and wicked propaganda – Alpha Kanu thumbnail

The Sierra Leone community at home and abroad were stunned to read from many foreign news outlets reporting the death of about two hundred people who had been killed in a mining accident in Baomahun in the Southern province.

However, their worries and fears were short-lived when reports surfaced again with Minister of Mines, Mineral Resources and Political Affairs, Alhaji Alpha Sahid Kanu disputing earlier reports of an accident and in fact stating categorically that such reports was not only  a complete hoax but one fabricated by people with vicious propaganda.

A day after leaving Baomahun where Minister Kanu had arrived with some government officials, police officers and soldiers among others, I caught up with him on his mobile/cell phone at Rokulan in the Sanda chiefdom.  Alpha Khan as he is commonly called was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Anthony Kamara: Minister Kanu can you confirm that reports that have circulated all over the world about the death of 200 people in a mining town never occurred?

Alhaji Alpha Sahid Kanu: You have my confirmation of that and 100% of that matter. I went there myself and found the area to be safe and quiet. People were preparing for Friday prayers and there was absolutely no sign of any disaster, Mr. Kamara.

AK: So you are absolutely sure that this was just a hoax right?

Kanu: It was a false, vicious rumour and a wicked propaganda meant to divert the current government attention from doing the things we were elected to do. The business of the people is our top most priority. There was no mining accident. It is inconceivable to have that kind of accident in Sierra Leone. We don’t have an underground mining. All we do is surface mining.

AK: Why would people choose to deliberately peddle such false stories and cause alarm?

Kanu: That’s the big question that we are all faced with. You see Mr. Kamara, there are people who don’t want to hear good news coming out of Sierra Leone.  These are people who are not happy because Sierra Leone under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma is making giant strides.

All you hear these days is good news; you hear about the construction of roads, the delivery of free medical service on April 27 which will cover children under five, pregnant and lactating women and also the very old.

That’s not all; we are working hard to improve our school system and trying hard to bring energy and electricity in all of our rural areas. Recently, the president launched a 30km drive to construct our roads in Freetown which includes 25km in each of our regional headquarters and 10km in area districts.

There is so much more we have been working hard to accomplish but of course as you would imagine that is not good news or good music to our distracters. But the truth is whatever they do; the government of President Koroma is determined to change Sierra Leone for the good of all. We will not be distracted from accomplishing the work this government was elected to do for the people of Sierra Leone.  We are not only focused but will always remain true and faithful to our “agenda for change as articulated by President Koroma.

AK: Do you realize that even as Sierra Leoneans are now at peace with the confirmation that the accident did not happen, there are still many questions lingering out there that many would love to see answered?

Kanu: I think I can understand the feelings of patriotic Sierra Leoneans and they have the right to ask questions. However, the good news is that the sad news was short-lived and temporary. We are thankful nothing happened at all.  Thank God, such a tragedy did not occur. We are talking about lives here, Mr. Kamara. Don’t these people realize what a tragedy this would have been for our nation? I mean these people have relatives and let’s just imagine that all 200 have ten relatives each, do you see how many people would have been directly affected? Without a doubt, it would have affected all of us because we are Sierra Leoneans and we care deeply about each other. I am very happy to report and repeat what I have said to other news organization that “not even a chicken or goat was hurt.

AK: Yesterday, you were in Baomahun in the Southern Province. Today, you are in the Northern Province. What brings you to Rokulan?

Kanu: I am in Rokulan to witness the by-elections taking place to fill the sit vacated by former Member of Parliament, Hon. Eddie Turay who is now serving our country Sierra Leone as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

AK: How’s the election going? Are you confident of a victory?

Kanu: Well, I think we are going to win. The election is being contested by all three parties but with 80% of the results so far in, the APC is leading by a wide margin; about 75%. I am looking forward to travelling to Makeni where I will deliver the good news to the president.

AK: Thank you for your time, good luck and have a safe trip.

Kanu: Thank you, too.
Courtesy of Anthony Kamara, Jnr.

– See more at: http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/?p=6687#sthash.r2lZjQcB.dpuf

President Ernest Bai Koroma is laying a solid foundation for an enviable place in history, and a landslide in 2012

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

ERNEST KOROMA FINEST

Take it or leave it. Whatever shortcomings critics attribute to President Ernest Koroma’s no-nonsense and uncompromising stand against corruption in Sierra Leone, one fact stands sure.When the contemporary history of Sierra Leone is written, the President will certainly occupy an enviable place in Sierra Leone’s folklore. He will forever be known as the first President of Sierra Leone who took a drastic stand against corruption, the seemingly impregnable beast that has wreaked untold havoc on socio-economic and political prosperity in our land.
Already, the international and diplomatic world are beginning to take Sierra Leone seriously as one African nation that is now ready to put a mortal dent on corruption, the plague that the continent has flattered with to her own doom.Soon ,as Jamaica may be considering doing, fascinated leaders of other nations may start knocking at our doors to enquire how we successfully launched a crusade against a demon that other nations have steered clear off and have been hesitant to take by the horns .
Also standing sure is the fact that President Koroma is also laying a solid foundation for an elections landslide in 2012. The truth is that however much the President is criticised (And the critics are entitled to their opinions ) the generality of Sierra Leoneans are impressed with President Koroma’s fight to stamp out corruption from Sierra Leone at last. And they will not forget him on Elections Day, come 2012.
All President Koroma has to do is just remain unmoved and undeterred and set his face like a flint towards his goal.
The President knows more that some of us do that he will never satisfy everybody. He will do his dazzling best to satisfy us all, but he knows too well that it is not humanely possible to satisfy everybody.
Yesterday, the cry in the opposition circles was that President Koroma has sacred cows, contrary to his campaign promises in 2005-2007 that when he wins the Presidential Elections, there will be no sacred cows in government. Now the President has demonstrated that he does not indeed have any sacred cows and once the Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC ) provides proof and institutes legal action against any of his ministers or public officers , whoever those ministers or public officials are they must go. President Koroma has indeed proved that there are no sacred cows in his government.
Sierra Leoneans have to realize that it is never an easy decision for a President or a boss in any entity to let go of employees who had served him for a reasonable length of time. We ,especially, are a very small country and we are all bound, one way or the other, by family, kinship,marriage, regional and other difficult-to-break  ties . Our tradition also dictates that we protect the interests of each other and one thing that no conscientious Sierra Leonean loves to do is to remove bread from the mouths of his compatriots. It was therefore not easy for the President when he had to take adverse decisions against his ministers. But a man is only as good as his word and his principles.  The President does not delight in firing his ministers and Ernest Koroma has never been a vindictive person , even during his college days or life as a young insurance executive but when circumstances arise where his sentiments on one side  and his moral  principles and the nation’s interests  collide , he has to take action in the interest of his moral principles and the nation, because, after all, he is the Chief law-enforcement officer in the land. Everybody is looking up to him to lead the way in making Sierra Leone a better country where the law works. If he does not ensure that the laws of the land are enforced, what kind of President will he want people to think he is and also, what kind of society will he be building ? It is very sad to let go of an employee in our unique African setting, but often, we are left with no choice. The national interest should be more supreme. If the President allows sentiments to cloud his judgement, the same people condemning him now will be the first to accuse him of complicity and there will be utter chaos .
For those who have a niche for always smelling the rat, President Koroma will never be part of a conspiracy against anyone. That is not his nature and even his detractors can acknowledge that. He is just doing his job.
If indeed those accused of corruption were ‘set up’ by unscrupulous ones, the legal system will decide. They will have their day in court and if indeed they are found not guilty, they will not only be exonerated but they will have the last laugh ,especially if they are reinstated. There is no joyful sentiment as having the last laugh. But let us give the legal system chance to work. We have all been clamoring for this kind of accountability and transparent justice in Sierra Leone. Let’s allow the system to work.
Female political activist, Agnes Dugba Macauley of the UK told us an interesting story at Leonenet-TAMU. Trying to reinforce the fact that it is very difficult to please Sierra Leoneans, Agnes narrated this story :
 
Let me tell you a little story: There is strong belief that a typical Sierra Leone will always find faults no matter what.  A typical example is when a man visited his in-laws and the mother-in-law asked what he would particularly want on a Saturday Morning.  He replied in krio: “mama nar plasas a go want.”  The mother- in -law said “plasas enh ? ” …and he said “yes mama.”  The mother- in- law cooked some very delicious cassava leaves with smoked monkey ..and when the food was presented to him on Saturday, he said: “de plasas sweet oh but a bin for lekke craine craine; especially wae nar Satiday. Why you nor cook two kine plasas, cassada liff en craine craine? ” The mother-in-law just scratched her head and smiled walking away sighing …ah we salone pipul dem!! We will never just appreciate anything without the why, or But.  I guess thats that makes us a unique group of people. 
 This is a graphic picture of the way we behave and it is not right. We have to make up our minds what we really want.
I have always believed that people are entitled to their opinions.However, if we make ourselves too difficult to please, we will create a situation where ,  in future,  other leaders will become shy of taking major decisions affecting the nation.
Let’s give credit to the President for his moral courage and commitment to fight corruption. It is a new day in Sierra Leone.The history books will not only hail this new dawn in Sierra Leone but the nation will always crave for a no-nonsense President like Ernest Koroma under whose watch corruption is about to suffer a black eye .
Certainly, the President is doing an outstanding job to discourage corruption and he is not only laying a strong foundation for Sierra Leoneans to give him a second term to complete his crusade. If things continue at the pace they are going, by the time President Koroma completes his second term, Sierra Leone will be a nation that we will all be proud of. We are setting the pace once again and soon, we will restore our old glory of being the Beacon of Light of Africa.
This is what we have been praying for and we thank God that it is now being fulfilled.

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Social Welfare, Children’s and Gender Affairs, Dr. Soccoh Kabia addresses UN Women’s Session

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Social Welfare, Children’s and Gender Affairs, Dr. Soccoh Kabia addresses UN Women’s Session thumbnail

Chairperson,
UN Session on women by Sierra Leone’s
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Firstly, I would, on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, like to offer our deepest condolences to the Government and people of Chile for the recent tragedy that befell them.

We are honoured to be able to participate in this 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.  Chairperson, we are confident that under your leadership, we would successfully advance actions for the full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA) and the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.Â

Chairperson, 

We align ourselves with the eloquent statements delivered by Yemen and Equatorial Guinea on behalf of the G 77 and China and the African Group respectively.

Chairperson,

Indeed, we are grateful for his opportunity to give account of what has so far been achieved and the challenges we have faced in the context of the Bejing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA). Our country is recovering from an eleven year old civil war that resulted in a complete breakdown of civil and political authority with dire social consequences. Thankfully, that is now behind us. We are now in the process of rebuilding our nation and consolidating our democratic institutions, to ensure the rights and welfare of our citizens are protected. In particular, we have a special obligation to protect our women and children who were victims of untold horror during the civil conflict. In this direction, we are happy to report we have made significant progress in implementing the two outcome documents pertaining to Beijing under review.

Chairperson, distinguished delegates,

The Government of Sierra Leone remains fully committed to addressing and implementing all 12 critical areas of concern specified in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as the provisions of the outcome document of the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly. We have amply demonstrated commitments at the national, sub-regional and regional levels by coordinating the appropriate mechanisms to advance the rights of our women by our engagements in various fora to share experiences and engage with other nations and experts in adopting best practices for the benefit of our people.

In 2007 an MDG needs assessment was done and costed. This helped policy planners in implementing programmes for relevant service delivery and enhance the development of the PRSP II also known as the Government’s Agenda for Change. Furthermore, we participated in the 8th African Regional Conference on women (Beijing+15), held in the Gambia in November 2009, which adopted a key document for our region with Strategies to accelerate the implementation of the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action.

Chairperson,

Our Government under the leadership of the H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is fully committed to gender parity and equity in all areas. For example, in education, the government funds a girl-child education scheme, a key strategy that is yielding dividend and has ensured the girl primary school enrolment is almost at parity with the boys.
It is also significant to note that gender and Child rights legislations have been enacted. In addition to the Anti-Human Trafficking Act enacted in 2005 to address national and international trafficking issues, the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act seeks to address rights of rural women in marriage, the Domestic Violence Act and the Devolution of Estates Acts (2007) to ensure protection of women’s inheritance rights. Sexual Offences and Matrimonial Causes Bills will soon be enacted into law.  The Family Support Unit (FSU) established through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and the Sierra Leone Police in 2002. Currently we have 40 FSU stations that serve as the first port of call for sexual and gender-based violence victims. Additionally, a National Committee on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) plays a coordinating and monitoring role related to gender-based violence nation-wide. The Committee is a multi-stakeholder group comprising of the government departments, UN System, International and National Non-Governmental Organizations preventing and responding to GBV issues. The committee meets regularly chaired by the Minister and co-chaired by the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of crime services. The Anti-Human Trafficking Act and the Adoption Acts are undergoing review for amendments to make them more robust.

Chairperson,

Even in the face of the current global financial crisis, when we are faced with challenges, we remain absolutely committed to the promotion of gender equity. A reproductive and child health strategic plan has been launched to address the unacceptably high maternal and child mortality and morbidity. In fact a basic health package has been developed and will be launched by H.E. the President in April of this year. Key components include free health care for all pregnant and lactating mothers and children in public health centers and hospitals.

Chairperson,

Similar commitment applies to the area of area of governance. In this connection, a National Gender Strategic Plan has been developed with support from development partners. The plan include six priorities namely: capacity building and coordination; women’s participation in governance; reproductive and sexual reproductive health rights; women’s empowerment; gender budgeting and accountability; ICT Research and Documentation. Mr. Chair, I am happy to report that the Sierra Leone National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 has also been developed and will be launched very shortly. Government has also ratified CEDAW and the sixth report writing is at an advanced stage.

Chairperson,

All of the above are yielding fruit. We have witnessed an increase in the number of women participating in public and political spheres. In the Judiciary for instance, 9 out of 21 Judges are females, while 4 out of the 7 the Supreme Court Justices are women. In 2008 a Landmark appointment of a women as Chief Justice was made. As we speak, the chairperson of the National Electoral Commission is a woman. In Parliament we have 14 percent female representation in Parliament. We have 2 female Cabinet Ministers and 4 female Deputy Ministers. We now have increased number of female recruitment in the Security Sector Institutions; for instance, female participation in the Sierra Leone Police increased from 5% during the pre and conflict era to 20% currently. The appointment of the first female Brigadier in West Africa is another case in point. At the Local Council level, we have about 20 percent female representation in the Councils.

Chairperson,

Women’s economic empowerment is well articulated in both the Government’s Agenda for Change and the National Gender Strategic Plan. We have a Ministry devoted to gender issues and the advancement of women and gender concerns have been mainstreamed into most of nations policies, plans and programmes.

Chairperson,

Encouraging though the afore-mentioned achievements are, the full and effective implementation of BDPfA is still a challenge. The Family Support Units key in ensuring that the legal rights of women and children are protected need to be strengthened and expanded. The capacity of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs should be should be enhanced to train well-qualified social workers. There is need to implement effective operational guidelines for the Sierra Leone Police to address and prosecute perpetuators of sexual and gender-based violence. There is need to increase the number of safe homes for victims of domestic violence, ensuring access to justice and timely judicial interventions including prosecution of perpetuators to combating impunity through close monitoring and evaluation. Improvement of the access to health care service delivery due to lack of financial and technical resources.

In conclusion, chairperson, progress has been made but much remains to be done. We must remain committed to the cause until ultimate achievement of gender parity and equity. We have to ensure that women enjoy their full rights and protection under the law and that their human rights are respected. This is to ensure their full participation in decision-making to determine their own destiny and by extension the destiny of humanity.  The rights and protection of women is inextricably linked with the development of our nation and indeed any nation.
I thank you for your attention.

Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN