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Archive for January, 2011

PART 2 : President Ernest Koroma : ‘I will do everything to maintain the momentum ‘

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Published on January 30, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

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President Ernest Bai Koroma last Wednesday held an interview  with COCORIOKO while he was in the United States. The President arrived in Washington DC  last Tuesday  to brief the U.S. State Department, on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS ) ,  about  the ongoing  peace process in the Ivory Coast .  As earlier reported by this newspaper ,President Koroma dispelled the erroneous notion held by many people , including journalists , that the ECOWAS Delegation he headed to the U.S. was here to seek approval from the U.S. Government and the United Nations ( UN ) for military action against the recalcitrant Laurent Gbago Government.

According to President Koroma, ECOWAS still held  on to the belief that the impasse in the Ivory Coast will be resolved through peaceful negotiations. In nhis usual jovial , bouyant and positive mood , President Koroma said that he and his delegation were in the United States to continue the process of peaceful negotiations to end the stalemate in the Ivory Coast but he lamented the fact that the two-day snowstorms in the East Coast had hampered some of their plans. The President told Cocorioko that ECOWAS will continue the process of peaceful negotiations. “We have not declared war in the Ivory Coast ” , he affirmed.

COCORIOKO and the President also discussed his socio-economic and political achievements in Sierra Leone since he came to power in 2007 through free and fair democratic elections. President Koroma enumerated his government’s desires to bring relief to the Sierra Leonean people, He further disclosed  that he made promises to the people and was going all out to fulfill these promises.  The President relished the fact that the generality of Sierra Leoneans appreciated what he had done for them.

President Koroma promised to maintain the momentum of his achievements as  the interest of the people was paramount in his mind. He called on all members of his government and Sierra Leoneans to continue  working  with him to achieve his socio-economic and political objectives.

The President is confident that come 2012 his achievements will speak for him at the polls and he was certain that the people of Sierra Leone will give him a deserved second term.

PRESIDENT KOROMA IS MARCHING ON MAGNIFICENTLY BOTH AT HOME AND IN THE INTERNATIONAL SPHERE

President Koroma said he appreciated the tremendous efforts being made to  propagate his socio-economic and political objectives and achievements and said that he knew that they were being done  because of appreciation of   his hard work and what he had achieved for the people during the short time he had been in power. The President gave the assurance that he will not relent and will  continue offering his best to  achieve the goals his government has set.

President Koroma’s level of positivity during the interview was very impressive and effusive. The President who has no time   for negativity was optimistic about the future of the  emergent nation he rules  which had made dramatic strides since civil war that tore the country apart ended in 2002.

Why proud of being a Sierra Leonean

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Published on January 27, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

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By Ibrahim Sourie Mansaray , Stockton, California :

Just few weeks ago, the Chief of Defence Staff of Sierra Leone, Robert Y. Koroma  demonstrated the country’s commitment  to providing troops to the ECOWAS Force for Ivory Coast.  It demonstrated the country’s  appreciation for the role played by some West African states  in bringing peace to Sierra Leone during the rebel war. It was a giant step  from this beloved country. It buttressed the saying that “ when your neighbor’s house is on fire, you should stand by him and put it out”. This is no hyprocrisy of minding your own business as ascribed by a neighboring leader in the sub-region.  I was thrilled with joy and pride when the Sierra Leonean Chief of Defence Staff informed  the world through BBC that the country is willing to send troops to the Ivory Coast debacle. What a bold step is the country portraying? Is this not in line with the adage that “One good turn deserves another”.  As the menace in Ivory Coast escalates, the  former Nigerian Foreign Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi   categorically called for the use of force in Ivory Coast. Tom Ikimi’s call  was reminiscent of the political imbroglio in Sierra Leone and Liberia respectively in the 1990s when these two countries were in turmoil. It was the hard stance of Tom Ikimi at the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) that brought the world to know the suffering of  these two countries.  The wars in these two countries would have raged on for several years before the international community would have intervened. Sierra Leoneans will never forget the sacrifices made by some countries in salvaging a nation from the claws of death.

While Tom Ikimi’s stance on Ivory Coast was commendable, it also exposed the inadequacies of the International Community especially the African Union (AU). The European Union,the  United States have categorically denounced the wayward attitude of this  African leader. The AU’s attitude has been discouraging, to say the least. In the Sierra Leone ,Liberia scenario, the AU secretariat issued bundles of press releases condemning the AFRC coup but failed to proffer any immediate solution.This degree of delay allowed the AFRC and its allies to consolidate their power base. That is the ugly situation re-emerging  in Ivory Coast. Gbagbo is importing arms and ammunition  and shamelessly withdrawing money from the oil companies and banks. It is no hidden secret that some African leaders who may want to copy and paste this tactics  will support Gbagbo.  As Dr. Abass Bundu encapsulated the Gbagbo theories in his article on Ivory Coast, it inferred that Gbagbo had premeditated his failure in the election. It is therefore not surprising that Gbagbo’s snail pacing attitude towards the issue is a ploy to buy time and thwart the efforts of the African people and his own people whom he alleged to love.

The people of Ivory Coast are suffering and the African leaders are looking with hesitation. Some, notably, the Ghanaian leadership has manifested his ambivalent attitude towards the crisis.   The Ghanaian presidency expressed apprehension about Ghana’s participation in sending a contigent to Ivory Coast. Ghana’s role in African peace keeping had been skeptical and controversial.    Today, his stance is supportive of the decisions of ECOWAS and the next day, he is showing restraint.  Ghana , since the days of late Kwame Nkrummah was noted for its liberation struggles and pan-afranism. However, recent events in international politics has blacklisted Ghana as a country with two faced policies. The former leader, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana openly manifested his abhorence for the former ruler of Sierra Leone, Tejan Kabbah during the crisis in Sierra Leone. As if that was not enough, the Ghanaian  ECOWAS envoy to Sierra Leone ,Victor Gbehu, visited the Sierra Leone at the behest of ECOWAS to assess the political situation during the massacre of civilians by the infamous January 6th invasion. Even when bodies were literred in the streets around the main Connaught hospital, Victor Gbehu told the world that everything was calm in the city. Another saga of  noteworthy was the death of the late Liberian Leader, Samuel K Doe at the hands of  Prince Johnson’s fighters under the command of the General Quiano, a Ghanaian.

The role of Sierra Leone in the crisis in Ivory Coast has demonstrated to the world that the people of the country acknowledged the efforts of some countries during our turmoil and as a nation , the country is now paying back. The President of  Sierra Leone will be meeting the US President, Barack Obama to brief the US about the crisis and its potential repecussions on democracy in the continent. Bravo, to the leadership of Sierra Leone and its people.   As Sierra Leone seemed to be the hub of new pan-africanism in the continent, the question that begs for attention is what is the African Union doing?

What has the African Union achieved since it replaced the Organisation of African Unity? Today, there are numerous problems in the continent. Somalia is a failed state, the war is still ravaging on after 20 years, hundreds of thousands have died, millions are displaced and the Al-Shaaba group  is creating hardships for ordinary civilians in the city and country wide.

In Congo, the war is still going. The instability has resulted in millions of Congolese lives and property being destroyed. The cases of rape are the order of the day.

In Zimbabwe, inflation is over 2,200 000%, the economy is broke with 94% of the people unemployed. Whislt the opposition that won the last election are in government with the incumbent party of Mugabe, the Mugabe government has ruled the country like a police state.

In Kenya, hundreds of people were killed during the post election fracas. Is it not the same” wait and see” approach of the AU?

As the world moves towards democracy and freedom of expression in places like Tunisia, Egypt, Ivory Coast is divided over an intransigent wayward leader ,Laurent Gbagbo, who thought the leadership of the country belongs to him. The once prosperous nation has been subjected to killings. Millions of farmers have lost their livelihoods and millions live in fear. The country is divided on ethnic and tribal lines.

It is sad that, most African leaders cannot boast of democracy as most of them came to power through the barrel of the guns. The usual barking and threats of suspension from the AU has not paid dividend. Sanctions affect the ordinary people more than the leaders. It is a shame that the AU had always relied on the west to cleanse their dirty backyard. Is the AU waiting for thousands to be killed before intervening? The newly appointed Ivorian Ambassador to the  UN , Youssoufou Bamba informed the UN General assembly that genocide is taking place in Ivory Coast. A member of the AU downplayed the statement as an exxageration. What a shame to mother Africa?

The peace efforts of the three presidents and the Kenyan prime minister had gone beyond the threshold of sanity. The use of force should be the national anthem of Gbagbo.

This should be the new music of ECOWAS:Expell all Gbagbo’s ambassadors from African countries and committees from international bodies. Second, ECOWAS should now create a buffer zone for all surrendered soldiers and preach the gospel of “ all those who bear the greatest responsibility against humanity” will face the International Criminal Court.

ECOWAS has done it in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast should not be the stumbling block.

Thank God Sierra Leone is a beacon in Africa.If the Victor Malu, Shelpidi,late Maxwell Khobe can bring peace to Sierra Leone and Liberia respectively, it is beyond all reasonable doubts that other  professional soldiers from Sierra Leone and other countries will bring peace to Ivory Coast.

President Ernest Koroma : The new jewel in the ECOWAS and AU crown

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Published on January 26, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

President of Sierra Leone Addresses General Assembly

By Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu :

As President Ernest Koroma  boards  the  airplane  once again  to brave the hazards of international travel to bring peace to the West African subregion, there is no doubt that he has become the new jewel in the crown of the Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS ) and the African Union ( AU ) . For the man for whom magnetic  diplomatic dynamism and political astuteness are legion , it is a double distinction. He is also playing a starring role in the African Union ( AU ) where he is the Coordinator of the Committee of 10 ( C-10) , tasked with advocating and promoting the African Common Position in the United Nations Security Council Reform negotiations. These are two roles being played by the Sierra Leonean President that should make every citizen of the nation proud.

For one man to be given  such a double important role in international diplomacy  demonstrates how much our President is held in high esteem in continental  diplomacy and  the new geoplitical configuration of Africa and the world.  Both the AU and ECOWAS have profound confidence in the President’s credentials , suitability and ability to deliver what the whole world is craving at this time -Peace and good government . It should therefore be a matter of pride to all Sierra Leoneans that the President is performing excellently to the expectation of the subregional and continental diplomatic  power-brokers .  Cream rises to the top and President Koroma has left no doubts about his ability to rise to the top  in his international assignments as he has done in local politics.

Being such an international peace envoy , especially for a volatile continent like Africa, is not easy and there should be no illusions about the enormity of the  task faced by the Sierra Leonean Leader.

Firstly, President Koroma   is now the pivot on whose axis rotates the success of the AU in  stamping out anarchic politics in Africa. Africa, for all her chaos and tribulations, has to be made now to understand that that there is a higher political order that should be obeyed–The will of the people and the supremacy of the constitution.  With the new wind of international political change blowing in the continent, there is place no more for anarchic politics. Laurent Gbagbo’s will cannot be allowed to supercede the collective will of the Ivorian people .If allowed, it will set a very bad precedent and open the door once again for megalomanic leaders who do not accept defeats at elections. President Koroma’s job is therefore well cut–He has to traverse land and sea to ensure that the will of the people prevails in the continent.  To achieve the goals that have been set for him, the President will face the  incalculable hazards , not only of air travel but tempestous weather –heat, cold, rainstorms, snowstorms, icestorms etc. . However , if it is the price that our President has to pay to ensure constitutional civility in Africa, it is well and good . His labours will not go in vain . Posterity will record what he achieves for the continent and the world at large to the pride and credit of our nation .

Secondly, the timebomb ticking in the Ivory Coast is capable of plunging the whole of the West African subregion into bloody war ONCE AGAIN -Bloody war that will  again take thousands of innocent lives , create a monumental humanitarian crisis , produce another refugee crisis that will affect every country in West Africa and  destroy the  socio-economic and political progress that have been made in the subcontinent since the end of the Liberian and Sierra Leone tragedies. Africa therefore faces a race against time to stave off another disaster in the continent. This is why the continent has chosen a man that would be listened to,  President Koroma’, himself an accomplished  democrat and leader. Dr. Koroma’s   mission of peace is therefore very, very  important.  It is so important that the world itself is following up every minute of the President’s travails and travels.

It is therefore no surprise that all true lovers of peace and democracy in the world  are with President Koroma as he performs his noble assignment. They know that the road to success will not be  paved with gold but one thing that everybody can be sure of is that the history books will be kind to our President in time to come. And for this, we Sierra Leoneans must be proud.

President Ernest Koroma : The new jewel in the ECOWAS and AU crown

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Published on January 26, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

By Wilfred Leeroy Kabs-Kanu :

As President Ernest Koroma  boards  the  airplane  once again  to brave the hazards of international travel to bring peace to the West African subregion, there is no doubt that he has become the new jewel in the crown of the Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS ) and the African Union ( AU ) . For the man for whom magnetic  diplomatic dynamism and political astuteness are legion , it is a double distinction. He is also playing a starring role in the African Union ( AU ) where he is the Coordinator of the Committee of 10 ( C-10) , tasked with advocating and promoting the African Common Position in the United Nations Security Council Reform negotiations. These are two roles being played by the Sierra Leonean President that should make every citizen of the nation proud.

For one man to be given  such a double important role in international diplomacy  demonstrates how much our President is held in high esteem in continental  diplomacy and  the new geoplitical configuration of Africa and the world.  Both the AU and ECOWAS have profound confidence in the President’s credentials , suitability and ability to deliver what the whole world is craving at this time -Peace and good government . It should therefore be a matter of pride to all Sierra Leoneans that the President is performing excellently to the expectation of the subregional and continental diplomatic  power-brokers .  Cream rises to the top and President Koroma has left no doubts about his ability to rise to the top  in his international assignments as he has done in local politics.

Being such an international peace envoy , especially for a volatile continent like Africa, is not easy and there should be no illusions about the enormity of the  task faced by the Sierra Leonean Leader.

Firstly, President Koroma   is now the pivot on whose axis rotates the success of the AU in  stamping out anarchic politics in Africa. Africa, for all her chaos and tribulations, has to be made now to understand that that there is a higher political order that should be obeyed–The will of the people and the supremacy of the constitution.  With the new wind of international political change blowing in the continent, there is place no more for anarchic politics. Laurent Gbagbo’s will cannot be allowed to supercede the collective will of the Ivorian people .If allowed, it will set a very bad precedent and open the door once again for megalomanic leaders who do not accept defeats at elections. President Koroma’s job is therefore well cut–He has to traverse land and sea to ensure that the will of the people prevails in the continent.  To achieve the goals that have been set for him, the President will face the  incalculable hazards , not only of air travel but tempestous weather –heat, cold, rainstorms, snowstorms, icestorms etc. . However , if it is the price that our President has to pay to ensure constitutional civility in Africa, it is well and good . His labours will not go in vain . Posterity will record what he achieves for the continent and the world at large to the pride and credit of our nation .

Secondly, the timebomb ticking in the Ivory Coast is capable of plunging the whole of the West African subregion into bloody war ONCE AGAIN -Bloody war that will  again take thousands of innocent lives , create a monumental humanitarian crisis , produce another refugee crisis that will affect every country in West Africa and  destroy the  socio-economic and political progress that have been made in the subcontinent since the end of the Liberian and Sierra Leone tragedies. Africa therefore faces a race against time to stave off another disaster in the continent. This is why the continent has chosen a man that would be listened to,  President Koroma’, himself an accomplished  democrat and leader. Dr. Koroma’s   mission of peace is therefore very, very  important.  It is so important that the world itself is following up every minute of the President’s travails and travels.

It is therefore no surprise that all true lovers of peace and democracy in the world  are with President Koroma as he performs his noble assignment. They know that the road to success will not be  paved with gold but one thing that everybody can be sure of is that the history books will be kind to our President in time to come. And for this, we Sierra Leoneans must be proud.

continent.

Exclusive:President Koroma says that ‘Process of peaceful negotiations to end Ivorian impasse still on’

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Published on January 26, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

By Wilfred Kabs-Kanu

The Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS ) has not given up on the process of peaceful negotiations to end the Ivory Coast impasse, Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma told Cocorioko this evening. The President, who is heading an ECOWAS delegation to the United States to brief the U.S. Government on the status of the negotiations, said that the subregional group still has hopes that the crisis will be resolved through peaceful negotiations. “We have not  given up on the peace option and we have not declared war on the Ivory Coast, ”  he stated emphatically. President Koroma is one of three West African heads of state chosen by ECOWAS  to lead efforts for a negotiated settlement of the Ivory Coast impasse, the others being  Benin’s Boni Yayi  and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde .

President Koroma arrived in Washington DC yesterday at the head of a team nominated by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the  ECOWAS chairman to brief the U.S Government about the negotiations.  The delegation includes the  President of ECOWAS Commission Victor Gbeho ,  Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Odein Ajumogobia and  the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Ade Adefuye . President Koroma told this paper that they are here to get the U.S. and the UN  involved in the negotiations.

The assurance by President Koroma that ECOWAS has still not given up on  the peaceful negotiations option will bring  a huge  sigh of relief to many people in West Africa who still want all  peaceful avenues to be exhausted first  . While they know that a military offensive to remove ex-President Laurent Gbagbo , who refused to leave after being defeated in the Ivorian Presidential Elections ,is the logical option left if the former President continues to defy local and international pressures to quit, they are wary of the devastating toll the exercise may have on  the lives of thousands of innocent people caught in the imbroglio. There are also fears of a prolonged conflict that may create a humanitarian nightmare and spill over to neighbouring countries. Already, Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Ghana’s Head of State , Mr. Atta Mills, have  spoken against the military option , indicating that they might not contribute troops to any force designed to invade the Ivory Coast  while the Ugandan President, Mr. Yoweri Musoveni, has proposed to the African Union ( AU ) that the Ivorian Presidential Elections be fully investigated first.

On national matters, President Koroma told COCORIOKO that his government was determined to maintain the tempo of the socio-economic and political developments it has initiated in the country. It must be recalled that President Koroma has declared  2011 a year of implementation and progress. During his New Year Day Address to the nation while launching Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations,  President Koroma said that this will be a year of implementation of government projects.

TO BE CONTINUED

President Koroma will continue to vigorously support press freedom in Sierra Leone

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Published on January 25, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

President Ernest Bai Koroma  has always given the assurance that he will continue to  provide total and  vigorous support for press freedom and multi-party democracy in Sierra Leone , despite the  abuse of free speech  by unscrupulous journalists bent on sowing untruths and confusion in the society.  The President ‘s assurance will bring gladness to  the hearts of all progressive and democratic Sierra Leoneans who are already delighted about the wind of change that the All People’s Congress ( APC) has allowed to blow over the media landscape of Sierra Leone.

The APC Government has one of the best press records in Africa. Apart from allowing over 50 or more newspapers and over a dozen radio stations  to flourish in the country without any curbs or restraints whatsoever, Sierra Leone , under President Koroma, has become one of the safest countries to practice journalism, with no media personnel or writer ever subjected to arrests or illegal search and seizures since the government came to power in 2007.  Despite all the fallacious stories being written about him by the opposition, President Koroma promises to make the Sierra Leone press a showpiece of freedom in the whole continent.

The onus is now on the information media  in Sierra Leone to make use of the President’s resolve and goodwill by practising responsible journalism. The inky profession is too important in nation-building to be practised with the kind of reckless and irresponsible abandon  by some opposition newspapers  . The Ernest Koroma Government recognizes that  the right to be heard is a constitutional principle,  but media men and women should  reciprocate  with  a conscious effort to make Journalism more responsible and respectable in Sierra Leone by desisting from writing deliberate  lies about public officials. The press has a duty not only to keep the populace informed but to be a watchdog over truth.  However , when opposition newspapers make it a habit to concoct and peddle cock-and -bull stories about the President and his officials, they are not only abdicating that sacred responsibility but are bringing the profession to disrepute . No wonder journalism in Sierra Leone is now regarded with scorn.

It is a betrayal of journalistic ethics to lie on government officials . It was the same NEW PEOPLE  newspaper, which in 2008, falsely accused Vice-President Sam Sumana of buying a mansion in New Jersey. With New Jersey being a state  with one of the largest concentration of Sierra Leoneans in the U.S,  where will the Vice-President be owning a home in the state without Sierra Leoneans seeing it ?  The New People failed to realize that there are many Sierra Leoneans involved in the mortgage business in New Jersey, many of them being members of the SLPP. If the story had been true , these Sierra Leoneans would have known because they have access to all records of  home sales  in the state . To this day, nobody has seen the alleged house bought by the V-P, proving  that the story  was just a figment of the imagination of the New People writers.

The question being asked is : Why the  fascination with concocting stories about real estates bought by government officials ? The reason is simple. The SLPP press just wants to portray government officials as being self-seeking and insensitive to the plight of the poor. It is a propaganda trick used to tarnish the names of officials with whose execution of  duties they have found no complaints with.

President Koroma, for instance, is at the apogee of   his leadership. Everybody in the nation is praising him for the turn around he has brought to the nation ‘s socio-economic and political fortunes. Magnificent and state-of-the-art roads and infrastructure are adorning the national landscape ; hope has sprung eternal in the hearts of all Sierra Leoneans . Even internationally, the President’s reputation and profile keep skyrocketting. index after index declare him one of the best leaders in Africa. Everything, every statistic is in the President’s favour . International awards keep coming. Under these circumstances, the SLPP has nothing negative to say about the President’s job performance and achievements .The only thing they can then do is to make up stories that the President has gone and bought a hotel in a foreign country.  They think that this will shift the favourable perception the masses have about their President.

 The SLPP press should however note that however gullible our people, we today live in a global village where, thanks to the revolution in information technology, lies have no chance of surviving the light of day. It is gratifying that Sierra Leoneans have already connected with their countrymen and women resident in Las Palmas , who have proved that the story is completely false–That there has not been any hotel sale in Las Palmas in recent times, not to mention one involving a Sierra Leonean. There are so many Sierra Leoneans living in Las Palmas that news of a citizen of the country buying a hotel there  would not have been secret. Also,  in  Las Palmas, because of her  status as a tourist centre , records of hotel  sales are in the public domain. Conducting  a property sale  search in Las Palmas is consumately easy and real estate companies  even aid it because shady ownship of hotels is not permitted.

No wonder the New People defeated itself  ultimately by stating :  ” New People sources cannot ascertain whether it is the same hotel owned by President Koroma’s role model the notorious Siaka Stevens.” This singular statement condemned the newspaper as being very irresponsible and sloppy with  its news-gathering techniques . Anybody who has studied  Journalism knows that it is one of the cardinal principles of the profession for journalists to crosscheck their stories before publishing them. How can the paper make such a dumb riposte after a very  bold assertion in its headline   : “AS HARDSHIP INTENSIFIES IN SIERRA LEONE, PRESIDENT KOROMA THROUGH THE HELP OF KEMOH SESAY BUYS HOTEL IN LAS PALMAS “  ? ( There was no question mark at the end of the banner headline yesterday. The editors only inserted it after COCORIOKO and NEWSTIME AFRICA took the paper to task for the story, attesting also to the dishonesty of the editors  ) . Where did investigative journalism go ? Should not the paper have done a title search first and confirmed the sale and new ownership, as applicable, before coming out with such a wild accusation ?  This title search would  not only have authenticated the story but it would have boosted the paper’s image  as a news outlet very efficient with its techniques of news-gathering. But then, how does one try to authenticate a made-up story ?

The New People owes President Koroma and the nation an apology and the sooner they become man enough to do it, the better for the reputation of the men and women associated with that newspaper.

It was Sylvia Blyden who yesterday wrote about one of the star analysts of the New People, one Professor Kelfala Kallon  :  ” …  the poor old man needs to change his spectacles.. to be  able to read and understand”.  With stories like this, it is not only the poor old man that needs to change his spectacles. The editors of the New People need to do the same to be able to gain a more accurate world perspective of reality.

And talking about ethics, Blyden  did warn :  “Professor Kallon should not try to speak about ethical journalism here when he is aligned to the  New People Newspaper “.  This salient truth  about the New People could not have been said better.

Aftermath of Ambassador McNee’s recent visit : A review of PBC engagement in Sierra Leone

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Published on January 25, 2011 

By Michael Massaquoi,  Coordinator, PBC Secretariat, Freetown.

 The Peacebuilding Commission has had an uninterrupted engagement with the Government of Sierra Leone for the last five years and the impact cannot be over-emphasised. Along with Burundi, Sierra Leone has been in the Agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) since 2006. Analysis of how the PBC has fared in the first two countries on its agenda is numerous and conclusions similar: the engagement has been incrementally beneficial, although several challenges remain.

 The Overarching objective of the PBC is to provide sustained international attention to countries on its agenda. Actions by the PBC to give practical effect to sustained attention for countries on its agenda can be classified into three categories-political accompaniment and support, resource mobilisation; and fostering coordination action among various key stakeholders in support of peacebuilding in the country.

 The PBC’s engagement with countries on its agenda-such as Sierra Leone- is both the vehicle through which these actions are undertaken and its value added assessed. The PBC has provided the main forum for the Government to present, discuss and monitor Sierra Leone’s peace and development strategy, the Agenda for Change; the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General (ERSG) to exchange views and gain strength from member states support of his integrated strategy for the UN family, the Joint Vision; and discussions on the major political and development issues essential to enhance the country’s peace consolidation process.

 Concrete and specific examples of political accompaniment and support include: in the aftermath of the political violence that erupted in March 2009, which is considered the most serious threat to peace and security since the end of the conflict, the engagement of the PBC provided parties political umbrella to the ERSG to lead negotiations between the two main political parties that resulted in the Joint Communiqué of 2 April 2009, to date the most notable example of ability of the country to resolve the differences in a peaceful way. The PBF also provided financial resources to support implementation of aspects of the Joint Communiqué.

 The inclusion of the energy as a peacebuilding priority in the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework underlined the PBC’s commitment to addressing economic dimension of peacebuilding-which at the time was an innovation. It was one of the early expressions of the PBC political support for the Government and people of Sierra Leone on a priority to which the Government attached great importance. I was an early example of the nexus of peace and development that has now become fully recognised and internalised in the support of the international community to countries undergoing peace consolidation processes.

The PBC engagement has resulted in sustained and heightened international attention on Sierra Leone and has helped in coordinating donor support. Several traditional donors as well as non-traditional donors have renewed or displayed an interest in Sierra Leone. Favourable consideration for the Peacebuilding Funding is given to countries on the Agenda of the PBC-Sierra Leone has thus received close to $37m. Nevertheless, the PBC itself recognizes this to be an area requiring further development.

The PBC has been instrumental in helping focus international assistance around one national strategy, the Agenda for Change; supporting greater national ownership by approving peacebuilding elements of the Agenda for Change as the peacebuilding  strategy; and creating a focused monitoring and reporting system by accepting a single integrated progress report for the implementation of the Agenda for Change. It is thanks to the PBC engagement that for the very first time the Government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with its international partners, and with civil society has put together a comprehensive progress report of the Agenda for Change that clearly underscores progress made and challenges ahead.

The PBC has advocated for a sustained partnership and an enhanced dialogues between the Government of Sierra Leone and its implementation partners. It has done this by appealing to the governing bodies of international institutions as well as by directly approaching individual countries and regional and international institutions.

By adopting the peacebuilding elements of the Agenda for Change as the basis of its engagement through the Outcome Document of the High Level Special Session of the PBC Sierra Leone Configuration of June 2009, the PBC has led the way for whole international community to coverage around the Agenda for Change as the only planning instruments for peace consolidation and development in Sierra Leone. In the Outcome Document the PBC agreed to support three peacebuilding priorities: youth employment; combating drug trafficking; and strengthening governance.

The PBC has been instrumental in fostering greater UN integration on the ground by supporting the integration of the political mandates of the UN agencies; strengthening the role of the ERSG; by approving the Joint Vision of the UN family in Sierra Leone; by supporting greater programmatic and operational integration; and by approving the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) for Sierra Leone.

Indeed, the ERSG points to the engagement of the PBC with Sierra Leone, coupled with his double mandate, on political and development matters, as essential factors that have strengthened his authority both with the Government and with the development partners thus enabling him to function effectively as the leader of the international community on the ground. These factors have allowed him to enter into a compact with the rest of the UN system; the UN Joint Vision, which is the contribution of the UN family to the implementation of the Agenda for Change. In the ERSG’s words; ‘’there would not be a UN Joint Vision without the PBC’’

Similarly, in response to encouragement by the PBC to both the Government and the international community to do more in the area of youth employment and empowerment, the main partners operating in this area, including the Government, UN, World Bank and GTZ, have joined forces and produced a Joint Response to Youth Employment in Sierra Leone with a three years duration (2010-2012) that would result in 106,000 youth employed on a sustainable basis.

-ENDS-

President Koroma will continue to vigorously support press freedom in Sierra Leone

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Published on January 25, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

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President Ernest Bai Koroma  has always given the assurance that he will continue to  provide total and  vigorous support for press freedom and multi-party democracy in Sierra Leone , despite the  abuse of free speech  by unscrupulous journalists bent on sowing untruths and confusion in the society.  The President ‘s assurance will bring gladness to  the hearts of all progressive and democratic Sierra Leoneans who are already delighted about the wind of change that the All People’s Congress ( APC) has allowed to blow over the media landscape of Sierra Leone.

The APC Government has one of the best press records in Africa. Apart from allowing over 50 or more newspapers and over a dozen radio stations  to flourish in the country without any curbs or restraints whatsoever, Sierra Leone , under President Koroma, has become one of the safest countries to practice journalism, with no media personnel or writer ever subjected to arrests or illegal search and seizures since the government came to power in 2007.  Despite all the fallacious stories being written about him by the opposition, President Koroma promises to make the Sierra Leone press a showpiece of freedom in the whole continent.

The onus is now on the information media  in Sierra Leone to make use of the President’s resolve and goodwill by practising responsible journalism. The inky profession is too important in nation-building to be practised with the kind of reckless and irresponsible abandon  by some opposition newspapers  . The Ernest Koroma Government recognizes that  the right to be heard is a constitutional principle,  but media men and women should  reciprocate  with  a conscious effort to make Journalism more responsible and respectable in Sierra Leone by desisting from writing deliberate  lies about public officials. The press has a duty not only to keep the populace informed but to be a watchdog over truth.  However , when opposition newspapers make it a habit to concoct and peddle cock-and -bull stories about the President and his officials, they are not only abdicating that sacred responsibility but are bringing the profession to disrepute . No wonder journalism in Sierra Leone is now regarded with scorn.

It is a betrayal of journalistic ethics to lie on government officials . It was the same NEW PEOPLE  newspaper, which in 2008, falsely accused Vice-President Sam Sumana of buying a mansion in New Jersey. With New Jersey being a state  with one of the largest concentration of Sierra Leoneans in the U.S,  where will the Vice-President be owning a home in the state without Sierra Leoneans seeing it ?  The New People failed to realize that there are many Sierra Leoneans involved in the mortgage business in New Jersey, many of them being members of the SLPP. If the story had been true , these Sierra Leoneans would have known because they have access to all records of  home sales  in the state . To this day, nobody has seen the alleged house bought by the V-P, proving  that the story  was just a figment of the imagination of the New People writers.

The question being asked is : Why the  fascination with concocting stories about real estates bought by government officials ? The reason is simple. The SLPP press just wants to portray government officials as being self-seeking and insensitive to the plight of the poor. It is a propaganda trick used to tarnish the names of officials with whose execution of  duties they have found no complaints with.

President Koroma, for instance, is at the apogee of   his leadership. Everybody in the nation is praising him for the turn around he has brought to the nation ‘s socio-economic and political fortunes. Magnificent and state-of-the-art roads and infrastructure are adorning the national landscape ; hope has sprung eternal in the hearts of all Sierra Leoneans . Even internationally, the President’s reputation and profile keep skyrocketting. index after index declare him one of the best leaders in Africa. Everything, every statistic is in the President’s favour . International awards keep coming. Under these circumstances, the SLPP has nothing negative to say about the President’s job performance and achievements .The only thing they can then do is to make up stories that the President has gone and bought a hotel in a foreign country.  They think that this will shift the favourable perception the masses have about their President.

The SLPP press should however note that however gullible our people, we today live in a global village where, thanks to the revolution in information technology, lies have no chance of surviving the light of day. It is gratifying that Sierra Leoneans have already connected with their countrymen and women resident in Las Palmas , who have proved that the story is completely false–That there has not been any hotel sale in Las Palmas in recent times, not to mention one involving a Sierra Leonean. There are so many Sierra Leoneans living in Las Palmas that news of a citizen of the country buying a hotel there  would not have been secret. Also,  in  Las Palmas, because of her  status as a tourist centre , records of hotel  sales are in the public domain. Conducting  a property sale  search in Las Palmas is consumately easy and real estate companies  even aid it because shady ownship of hotels is not permitted.

No wonder the New People defeated itself  ultimately by stating :  ” New People sources cannot ascertain whether it is the same hotel owned by President Koroma’s role model the notorious Siaka Stevens.” This singular statement condemned the newspaper as being very irresponsible and sloppy with  its news-gathering techniques . Anybody who has studied  Journalism knows that it is one of the cardinal principles of the profession for journalists to crosscheck their stories before publishing them. How can the paper make such a dumb riposte after a very  bold assertion in its headline   : “AS HARDSHIP INTENSIFIES IN SIERRA LEONE, PRESIDENT KOROMA THROUGH THE HELP OF KEMOH SESAY BUYS HOTEL IN LAS PALMAS “  ? ( There was no question mark at the end of the banner headline yesterday. The editors only inserted it after COCORIOKO and NEWSTIME AFRICA took the paper to task for the story, attesting also to the dishonesty of the editors  ) . Where did investigative journalism go ? Should not the paper have done a title search first and confirmed the sale and new ownership, as applicable, before coming out with such a wild accusation ?  This title search would  not only have authenticated the story but it would have boosted the paper’s image  as a news outlet very efficient with its techniques of news-gathering. But then, how does one try to authenticate a made-up story ?

The New People owes President Koroma and the nation an apology and the sooner they become man enough to do it, the better for the reputation of the men and women associated with that newspaper.

It was Sylvia Blyden who yesterday wrote about one of the star analysts of the New People, one Professor Kelfala Kallon  :  ” …  the poor old man needs to change his spectacles.. to be  able to read and understand”.  With stories like this, it is not only the poor old man that needs to change his spectacles. The editors of the New People need to do the same to be able to gain a more accurate world perspective of reality.

And talking about ethics, Blyden  did warn :  “Professor Kallon should not try to speak about ethical journalism here when he is aligned to the  New People Newspaper “.  This salient truth  about the New People could not have been said better.

Interview with Inspector General Munu of Sierra Leone

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Published on January 25, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

Written by Joseph S. Sherman,  Editor-In-Chief of the NEW DAILY NATION

 Unlike many Sierra Leone public officials who come to the United States whether on official or unofficial business but shy away from the press or even their fellow Diaspora brothers and sisters, the recently appointed Inspector General of police, Mr. .Munu is an exception.  Upon requesting an interview without making an appointment he courteously agreed without asking for protocol as most of our visiting government officials are known for.  In our discussion he said positive things about his alma mater Kolenten Secondary School and pertinent issues relating the state of security in Sierra Leone. In our telephone interview I asked I.G. Munu:

J.S. Mr. IG, welcome to the US and congratulations for your appointment as Inspector General of Police in the Republic of Sierra Leone.  For the benefit of the reading public can you briefly give your profile starting from your humble beginning as a law enforcement officer to this enviable position as the Inspector General of Police of the Republic of Sierra Leone?

I.G. Thank you very much for your warm welcome and it’s a pleasure to grant you this interview.  As for my profile, I graduated from Fourah Bay College and became a Cadet Assistant Superintendent in 1982-1984.  In 2006, I was promoted to an Assistant Inspector General and worked in the length and breathe of the country including the North and Eastern part of Sierra Leone with enviable track record.  I hold a MBA degree and did of lot of courses in policing and a member of the African Security Network.

J.S. As a product of Kolenten Secondary School what can you reminiscent at this time regarding the school?

I.G. Kolenten Secondary is part of my orientation and training that molded me initially to take up responsibility to be what I am today.  However, it pains me to hear what is happening in the school  in terms of academic decline which was what the founding fathers were fighting against.  Nevertheless, all is not lost as similar situations exist in most of the renowned schools in post-war Sierra Leone.  All we need is to rekindle the light in Kolenten and support the school so that students and teachers will once again feel that sense of belonging and responsibility.

J.S. Are there regrets or misgivings concerning the discipline and training you received in Kolenten Secondary School?

I.G. Absolutely, I have no regrets. As I said earlier, Kolenten played a very important role in my orientation to assume responsibility because of the discipline and training.  Therefore, I am grateful to the school authorities at the time for instilling in me these noble virtues at a very tender age that has played a pivotal role in my success and the success of many students who were privileged to attend the school during those golden years.

J.S. Kolenten Secondary School observed its 50th anniversary on January 23, 2011, as an alma mater of the school what do you think should be done to restore academic excellence and integrity of the school compared to what it was when you were a student?

I.G. We need a combination of various factors to energize the school administration in order to restore the past glory of the school, we need to go back to the drawing board and address issues that have plagued the school to such a debilitating phenomenon.  Most important of all we need to hold a stakeholders conference that will address the pressing issues that have engulfed the school.  If all these issues are taken into consideration, I believe the light of Kolenten will shine again.

J.S. The security network of any country is very important.  What challenges are you facing and would want the government to improve on or the international community to render assistance?

I.G. Sierra Leone has prospect because the country is undergoing transformation.  The establishment of the Office of National Security in 2002 has enhanced so many transformations within the security sector in the country.  The transformation engenders professional training and bringing the police force under democratic control devoid of partisanship.  Consequently, these factors have led to reduce crime rate, stability and peace.  Furthermore, the cultures of collaboration and teamwork are what we have developed in our workforce so much so that in my absence the fear of a vacuum in our individual responsibility is lacking.  With regard to challenges, we cannot boast of a robust police force as compared to Western countries.  Although we are recruiting personnel in the police force, communication equipments, transportation and other logistics are inadequate to support our operations.

J.S. What about the Operational Security Division (OSD) that provides security protection for high ranking government officials.  Why are they not armed to ensure maximum security for those they are protecting?

I.G. The OSD formally called the SSD and SSU has been modernized and playing a professional role in supporting the police unit.  They OSD is divided into several segments such as the Arm Response Unit, trained in weaponry, the PSU in charge of public disorder and uses batons incase of any public disorder, CPU-Clothing Protection Unit who have the responsibility of protecting the president, Static Protection Unit, they are responsible for protecting government officials and personnel, Escort Protection Unit, in charge of escorting  goods that are vulnerable to the public and the Training unit responsible for overall training of the police force.  So you can see how we have given responsibilities to each unit in the OSD.  The stigma of been a private security force as was rumored in the past is no more in existence.

J.S. I know political propaganda and perceived act of violence are imminent in Sierra Leone come 2012 elections.  What mechanisms and preparedness have you put in place to curtail violence and insecurity in the country?

I.G. Perceptions and realities are different in terms of knowing the truth.  Sierra Leone has changed a lot.  For example, the Bye-Elections in Kono where people felt that free and fair voting was not going to take place because of perceived violence, the police were in full control under the watchful eyes of national and international observers.  They acclaimed the elections as one of the most peaceful.  Likewise the 2012 elections will be peaceful and free of violence.  We are recruiting and training OSD personnel in Samu in readiness for the 2012 elections and I will assure all and sundry that the conduct of elections will be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere free of coercion, intimidation and violence.

J.S. Indeed, Mr. IG you are perceived as an APC appointee because many in the opposition think so.  How can you demonstrate to Sierra Leoneans that you stand for professionalism than biasness in terms of dispensing your duties?

I.G. As I said earlier perception and reality are different in terms of saying the truth.  I challenge anybody to bring out evidence of being partisan in dispensing my duties.  I have worked for two successive governments professionally without bias or favor and served with integrity and diligence that has placed me in a competitive advantage in the discharge of my duties as my professional police officer. Indeed, I came from the north but I cannot compromise my professionalism for partisanship.  My duty as a police officer is to serve and protect my country no to be politically involved.

J.S. How is the security situation in Sierra Leone regarding foreign investments and tourism attraction?

I.G. The security situation is improving rapidly.  We are fighting few incidents of arm robbery which is under contol and recorded crime is minimal.   With the recent jail break, we have apprehended most of the miscreants and are presently in court facing trial.  On the issue of foreign investment, we have few disgruntled fraudsters (419) who are luring foreigners in the country with the pretext that they will sell them gold or diamonds and as a result they end of duping these foreigners.  However, the police are doing all we can to protect visitors from being duped.  As for tourism the police are alert to protect tourists from criminals who might to take advantage of them.  All in all Sierra Leone is a safe haven for investment and tourism.

 

J.S. Mr. IG It’s a pleasure talking to you, Kolenten Secondary School alma mater and the bulk of Sierra Leoneans in the United States congratulates you for this enviable position and wishes you the best in dispensing your duties as an IG of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

I.G. Thank you, It’s pleasure granting you this interview.

Aftermath of Ambassador McNee’s recent visit : A review of PBC engagement in Sierra Leone

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Published on January 25, 2011 by Cocorioko News   ·   No Comments

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By Michael Massaquoi,  Coordinator, PBC Secretariat, Freetown.

The Peacebuilding Commission has had an uninterrupted engagement with the Government of Sierra Leone for the last five years and the impact cannot be over-emphasised. Along with Burundi, Sierra Leone has been in the Agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) since 2006. Analysis of how the PBC has fared in the first two countries on its agenda is numerous and conclusions similar: the engagement has been incrementally beneficial, although several challenges remain.

The Overarching objective of the PBC is to provide sustained international attention to countries on its agenda. Actions by the PBC to give practical effect to sustained attention for countries on its agenda can be classified into three categories-political accompaniment and support, resource mobilisation; and fostering coordination action among various key stakeholders in support of peacebuilding in the country.

The PBC’s engagement with countries on its agenda-such as Sierra Leone- is both the vehicle through which these actions are undertaken and its value added assessed. The PBC has provided the main forum for the Government to present, discuss and monitor Sierra Leone’s peace and development strategy, the Agenda for Change; the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General (ERSG) to exchange views and gain strength from member states support of his integrated strategy for the UN family, the Joint Vision; and discussions on the major political and development issues essential to enhance the country’s peace consolidation process.

Concrete and specific examples of political accompaniment and support include: in the aftermath of the political violence that erupted in March 2009, which is considered the most serious threat to peace and security since the end of the conflict, the engagement of the PBC provided parties political umbrella to the ERSG to lead negotiations between the two main political parties that resulted in the Joint Communiqué of 2 April 2009, to date the most notable example of ability of the country to resolve the differences in a peaceful way. The PBF also provided financial resources to support implementation of aspects of the Joint Communiqué.

The inclusion of the energy as a peacebuilding priority in the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework underlined the PBC’s commitment to addressing economic dimension of peacebuilding-which at the time was an innovation. It was one of the early expressions of the PBC political support for the Government and people of Sierra Leone on a priority to which the Government attached great importance. I was an early example of the nexus of peace and development that has now become fully recognised and internalised in the support of the international community to countries undergoing peace consolidation processes.

The PBC engagement has resulted in sustained and heightened international attention on Sierra Leone and has helped in coordinating donor support. Several traditional donors as well as non-traditional donors have renewed or displayed an interest in Sierra Leone. Favourable consideration for the Peacebuilding Funding is given to countries on the Agenda of the PBC-Sierra Leone has thus received close to $37m. Nevertheless, the PBC itself recognizes this to be an area requiring further development.

The PBC has been instrumental in helping focus international assistance around one national strategy, the Agenda for Change; supporting greater national ownership by approving peacebuilding elements of the Agenda for Change as the peacebuilding  strategy; and creating a focused monitoring and reporting system by accepting a single integrated progress report for the implementation of the Agenda for Change. It is thanks to the PBC engagement that for the very first time the Government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with its international partners, and with civil society has put together a comprehensive progress report of the Agenda for Change that clearly underscores progress made and challenges ahead.

The PBC has advocated for a sustained partnership and an enhanced dialogues between the Government of Sierra Leone and its implementation partners. It has done this by appealing to the governing bodies of international institutions as well as by directly approaching individual countries and regional and international institutions.

By adopting the peacebuilding elements of the Agenda for Change as the basis of its engagement through the Outcome Document of the High Level Special Session of the PBC Sierra Leone Configuration of June 2009, the PBC has led the way for whole international community to coverage around the Agenda for Change as the only planning instruments for peace consolidation and development in Sierra Leone. In the Outcome Document the PBC agreed to support three peacebuilding priorities: youth employment; combating drug trafficking; and strengthening governance.

The PBC has been instrumental in fostering greater UN integration on the ground by supporting the integration of the political mandates of the UN agencies; strengthening the role of the ERSG; by approving the Joint Vision of the UN family in Sierra Leone; by supporting greater programmatic and operational integration; and by approving the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) for Sierra Leone.

Indeed, the ERSG points to the engagement of the PBC with Sierra Leone, coupled with his double mandate, on political and development matters, as essential factors that have strengthened his authority both with the Government and with the development partners thus enabling him to function effectively as the leader of the international community on the ground. These factors have allowed him to enter into a compact with the rest of the UN system; the UN Joint Vision, which is the contribution of the UN family to the implementation of the Agenda for Change. In the ERSG’s words; ‘’there would not be a UN Joint Vision without the PBC’’

Similarly, in response to encouragement by the PBC to both the Government and the international community to do more in the area of youth employment and empowerment, the main partners operating in this area, including the Government, UN, World Bank and GTZ, have joined forces and produced a Joint Response to Youth Employment in Sierra Leone with a three years duration (2010-2012) that would result in 106,000 youth employed on a sustainable basis.

-ENDS-