By KABS KANU :
Sierra Leoneans and their American friends from New York and New Jersey were yesterday given an eloquent appraisal of comprehensive steps being taken by President Ernest Koroma to ensure that the democratic process went on successfully and to pave the way for him to hand over power smoothly to any new government that will emerge from next year’s presidential elections in Sierra Leone.
The Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Abdulai Bayraytay , gave the powerful feedback during the much- heralded Town Hall meeting with New Jerseyans and New Yorkers last evening at the Caribbean Palace Hall in Somerset, Franklin Township, New Jersey.
MR. BAYRAYTAY ADDRESSING THE MEETING
President Koroma dispatched his Spokesman to the diaspora to hold town meetings and explain steps being taken by the Head of State to ensure a smooth transfer of power next year and to help clarify many misconceptions being held by Sierra Leoneans about the economy, the political process, like the Voters and Civic Registration, the forthcoming elections, the President’s post-Ebola recovery priorities , the recent discovery of a massive diamond and other matters of national concern. He has held town hall meetings in Toronto, Washington DC, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
PART OF THE AUDIENCE
Though they had had a very hectic weekend celebrating their country’s 56th Independence Anniversary, Sierra Leoneans still turned up in impressive numbers for the town meeting. Present were a cross-section of the New Jersey community , including the Chairman of the non-partisan Sierra Leone Community of New Jersey ( SLCNJ) , Mr. Lamin Aharazim, members of his organization, the President of APC- New Jersey, Mr. Alimamy Turay and top-ranking members of his government , the Chairman of the West African Community, Mr. Foday Mansaray, former APC-NJ Leader , Mr. Pavi Jalloh , the Youth Leader of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ), Mr. Hindolo Barnett , as well as distinguished personalities in the community and their American friends .
AMBASSADOR SUMAH ADDRESSING THE MEETING
Mr. Bayraytay rose to the occasion to give the audience a well-coordinated report on the President’s democratic credentials and the full support he is giving to all the processes leading to next year’s elections. He said that President Koroma does not want to stay any minute in office beyond his tenure, contrary to the belief of his detractors . Mr Bayraytay stated that as he has often said, President Koroma is not a born again democrat, but a bona fide democrat from the onset . He outlined the president’s socio-economic and political achievements which include his road development projects , rural and urban electrification success, provision of solar power , water supply and educational and health facilities throughout the nation, the appreciation of the president’s work by the international community and stakeholders, including a commitment by the UN that they will not be involved in next year’s elections because they were satisfied with the way President Koroma was handling the process, and the president’s fight against corruption.
THE HIGH TABLE
Significantly, to show the importance attached to the meeting , in attendance was the Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah , who traveled all the way from New York with three personnel of the Sierra Leone UN Mission (which helped to stage the program ) to attend the meeting, joining the Deputy Permanent Representative for Legal Affairs , Ambassador Felix Koroma , who had been in New Jersey since Friday to participate in the Independence Anniversary celebrations and Minister Plenipotentiary Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu , who lives in the Garden State. The Ambassador was accompanied by the Acting Head of Chancery, Mr. Sheku Mesali , Counselor Sheriff among others.
ANOTHER VIEW OF THE AUDIENCE
The Permanent Representative also delivered a masterpiece , giving the audience a complete picture of the work being done for the nation , the continent of Africa and the world by the country’s diplomats at the UN, especially as Chair of C-10, the African Union committee tasked with the responsibility to canvas and propagate the African Common Position on the UN Security Council Reform and through the Peacebuilding Commission and other committees in the UN, of which Sierra Leone is a member.
MR. BAYRAYTAY AT THE PODIUM
The Chairman of the program was Mr. Bai Kamara.
The vote of thanks was given by the Minister Plenipotentiary, Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu , who commended the Mission and the APC-New Jersey for successfully coordinating the town meeting .He also praised Ambassador Sumah for connecting with the society and Ambassador Felix Koroma for his highly-commended statement at the New Jersey Flag raising program during the Independence Anniversary celebrations during the weekend.
The program ended with food and refreshments being served and Ambassador Sumah not only requesting to take photos with attendees but going around shaking hands with and acquainting himself with the audience.
ON WEDNESDAY, IN PART 2 OF THE REPORT ON THE TOWN MEETING , I WILL BRING YOU THE CONTENTS OF THE STATEMENTS DELIVERED BY MR. BAYRAYTAY AND AMBASSADOR SUMAH.