Welcoming the delegation, the president pointed out that government was focused on doing the right things to develop and transform the country when the twin shocks of the drastic drop in the world price of iron ore and the Ebola outbreak occurred. “We were focused on doing the right things when Ebola struck,” he said.
President Koroma thanked the Commission for canvassing donor support for the country, and said that although government had defeated the virus, there were still post-Ebola challenges. He explained that the 6-9 months recovery programme had been completed and government is now engaged in rolling out the 10-24 months recovery plan.
He encouraged the UN delegation to continue to support Sierra Leone in the areas of energy, health and agriculture to increase productivity and move away from subsistent farming.
President Koroma assured the delegation that government would continue to strengthen the democratic process, by providing continuous support to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) among other democratic institutions, adding that the PPRC was currently addressing intra-party disputes, while NEC and other democratic establishments were fully involved in the ongoing constitutional review process. He said the constitutional review process was expected to be completed soon and tabled before parliament for necessary amendments.
The president underscored the participation of youth in governance and expressed the need to invest on issues pertinent to youth and women. “It is better to invest in sustaining peace, addressing youth and women’s issues,” he said.
President Koroma reaffirmed government’s commitment in sustaining peace and security, and informed that government had no political detainees and no journalist was being held behind bars. He added that government had to continue engaging the donor community and international partners to support Sierra Leone’s capacity building through collaboration. He also said the elections should not only be monitored during voting and counting of votes but to also ensure that institutions are fully supported.
Chairman of the Peace Building Commission (PBC) and Kenyan Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr Macharia Kamau expressed his profound delight for the warm reception accorded him and his team on arrival in Freetown for which he profusely thanked President Koroma, and explained that they were in the country “to form part of the steady progress Sierra Leone is making in peace building.”
Mr Kamau said that it was not easy to see countries emerging from crisis that set themselves goals which were accomplished like Sierra Leone is doing. Whilst noting the importance of investing in sustaining world peace so that post war countries can sustain peace, he disclosed that out of the two resolutions adopted in New York, the issue of the primacy of politics was considered very important, and added that youth and women required special attention.
Mr Kamau said the Commission had realized that President Koroma in his wisdom had increased the number of women and youth representation in cabinet which was the main trust of debates that had been taking place. He stated that the country and its people were rising from the outbreak and are able to contain the disease.
He therefore assured President Koroma and the government that the issues discussed will be forwarded to the Security Council next week, as they wanted to be part of the coming elections.
Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Marc-Andre Blanchard who formed part of the delegation noted the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, and expressed hope that the 2018 elections will be peaceful.