State House, Freetown, Wednesday 20 May 2020 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has engaged leaders of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, at State House on the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic and other development issues in the country.
Vice President, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, who chaired the event, said that the effort was part of government’s plan to work on a sustained dialogue with civil society organisations and assured them of continued engagements. In his presentation, President Bio said that he had personally invited the CSOs to talk frankly about the relationship between government and civil society. He said that his
government intended to continue hearing and staying engaged with every voice in the civil society space because his government believed that each voice mattered and every voice would make the country’s democracy better and stronger.
He also thanked members of the Civil Society for their diverse support to Government’s response to the COVID-19 through direct support and other initiatives, advocacy, social mobilisation. He also reiterated government’s appeal to citizens to adhere to all COVID-19 healthcare and other directives, adding that they had strengthened healthcare systems and implemented measured policies to prevent, protect against, and curtail the spread of the COVID-19.
“We thank civil society for condemning the violence outright and taking the strong view that violence is inimical to peace, stability, and development. We note the sundry concerns around the issue and we will work on recalibrating next steps accordingly. Government wants a stronger relationship with civil society. As a government, we do not believe we should simply impose our own understanding of governance on citizens. We need the voices of citizens.
“Our Government and Civil Society want similar outcomes for Sierra Leone and for the future of Sierra Leone. We therefore want a relationship that is not one of mistrust and suspicion, not one of fear and dread, not one that is adversarial but a partnership built on mutual trust and cooperation; one based on a shared aspiration to ensure that the right things are done at the right times, for the right reasons and with the right impact for our peace and development as a nation,” he said.
During the discussions, Executive Director Campaign for Good Governance, Marcella Samba Sesay, said that the COVID-19 response required every country to design its own pathway, adding that it was very important for the government and civil society to sit together to enable effective co-creation processes. Executive Director of Health for All Coalition, Charles Mambu, commended the government for the recruitment of healthcare workers, saying that they were pleased that government expenditure on health was increasing. He also commended