September 28, 2010
The United Nations Security Council is today having a PeaceBuilding Commission ( PBC ) Open Debate on “The Situation in Sierra Leone” . At the debate, the Foreign Minister, Mrs. Zainab Bangura addressed the Council . UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, gave his detailed report on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) highlighting, among other things, the important developments that have taken place in the country, the challenges to surmount and of course, the activities of UNIPSIL during the period under review. We present the Foreign Minister’s statement below :
STATEMENT by H.E. MRS ZAINAB H. BANGURA , MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE at The Open Debate of the Security Council on “The Situation in Sierra Leone” on Tuesday September 28, 2010
My delegation congratulates you in assuming the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of September and would like to thank you for convening this meeting on the Situation in Sierra Leone and for giving us the opportunity to contribute to this debate.
We also express our sincere appreciation to the Secretary-General for his detailed report on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) highlighting, among other things, the important developments that have taken place in the country, the challenges to surmount and of course, the activities of UNIPSIL during the period under review. The recent visit of the Secretary General to the country was particularly productive and still remains fresh in the minds of all Sierra Leoneans as it coincided with the inauguration of the second ever independent public broadcaster in Africa â€“ the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).
We would also like to pay particular tribute to the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General (ERSG) for his Statement this morning and also to the Chair of the Sierra Leone Country Specific Configuration, Ambassador John McNee for his usual meaningful and instructive contribution to this debate.
For due economy of time, I would resist the temptation of recounting in detail all the important developments that have taken place in the country during the period under review, as His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, in addressing the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly has already done so five days ago by outlining some of the visible progress his government has made during this time, in partnership with the international community, in the process of consolidating peace and security to promote economic growth and development.
Many of these efforts and successes, which are also reflected in the report before us today, have equally been acclaimed in indicators such as those of the Global Peace Index that ranks Sierra Leone as the 53rd most peaceful country in the world; the Mo Ibrahim Index on our significantly improved ranking in democratic governance among crisis affected countries; World Bank rankings on Doing Business; the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, among others. However, the President was very forthright in cautioning against complacency by our achievement so far, but that these accolades should serve as catalyst for the Government to intensify its efforts in improving the quality of life of its people.
The Government is fully cognizant of the importance of some of the issues the Secretary-General raised in the report regarding the implementation of the Joint CommuniquÃ© of April 2 2009, particularly with respect to such matters as the dialogue among political parties, the report of the Independent Review Panel, the proposed inquest into the executions on 29 December 1992, of a former Inspector-General of police and 27 others, and the enhancement of the political participation of women in Sierra Leone.
With respect to the furtherance of the culture of political tolerance, President Koroma has consistently emphasized that irrespective of political affiliation or religious denomination, the bonds of unity that bind us together as a nation are stronger than the issues that have a tendency to divide us. In one such instance he reassured the country by asserting as follows:
“â€¦ I am president of the country and I have a responsibility to unify the country. I have a responsibility to let everybody develop a new concept of democracy, a new culture of democracy, and that is, you are not enemy with anybody. You are just maybe opponents on political issues, but at the end of the day, we must present ourselves as Sierra Leoneans, united in the development of our country,”
He has on various occasions extended the olive branch and quick to point out that tolerance is a two-way street and that all Sierra Leoneans should strive for a unified nation. He has demonstrated his commitment to deepening the democratic process and unifying the country not only by his regular visits around the country, but by also ensuring that development programmes initiated by the Government are implemented throughout the country fairly, irrespective of political leanings or ethnicity of any particular region or locale.
The government is fully committed to strengthening governance and private sector development. The fight against corruption is unrelenting; a new Anti-Corruption Commissioner has been appointed and government continues to provide financial support for the implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy (NACS). The commitment to fight against drug trafficking and transnational organized crime is equally vigorous, as we have transformed the Joint Drug Interdiction Task Force into a Transnational Crime Unit with a much greater leverage to eradicate this pernicious menace â€“ but is very much in need of sustained technical assistance and support.
On another major front of the ongoing peacebuilding initiative, we have been able to take further steps to address the concerns of youth in the country. A Youth Commissioner was recently appointed to lead the Youth Commission established to formulate strategy and policy related to the empowerment and involvement of the youth population in nation-building and national development. This clearly signals the Commission’s readiness to undertake its responsibilities and to start work on implementing its strategies. We would therefore appreciate more concrete support of all our partners, including those who have been actively involved in addressing this challenge.
Mr. President, with respect to the forthcoming 2012 elections, the Government is committed to ensuring that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) deliver effectively on their constitutional mandate independently, free of interference. In this regard, my colleague, the Finance and Economic Development Minister has already started mobilizing support and the necessary resources to set the stage for a credible, free, fair and fully participatory process and we count on the United Nations and international community to respond promptly and favourably to his call to action.
Achieving openness and transparency in the exploitation of our mineral resources is one of the most fundamental aspects of government’s development policy, with the political will to ensure that the country’s vast mineral wealth is exploited for the benefit of the people. To that end, government is very much receptive to concerns that have been raised over mining agreements entered into recently and is very much disposed to put in place modalities to address these concerns with the view to bringing about full compliance with the mineral laws of the country.
Despite efforts of the government and the progress that has been made to date in addressing many of the problems that led to the civil war, challenges still abound. Some of the aspects of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission still require support for full implementation. Most notably, the reparation process remains largely under-funded, some six years after the recommendations were issued. On the socio-economic front, the prevailing global economic and financial uncertainties are seriously undermining our efforts to turn around the economy as quickly as desired. In view of the severe impact of these uncertainties on our efforts, we appeal that urgent and appropriate attention be given to the delivery of pledges made at the last Consultative Group meeting on Sierra Leone held in London.
I would like to reiterate my Government’s commitment to taking a constructive role in addressing the unfolding events and the democratization process in the sister Republic of Guinea. We are satisfied that our National Electoral Commission was able to facilitate and ensure enfranchisement of Guinean citizens in Sierra Leone, particularly within the context of the Mano River Union. We will, in this regard, continue to monitor events with intense interest.
Government is actively considering the report of the Independent Review Panel, as well as the proposed inquest into the December 29 extra-judicial executions of 1992 involving a former Inspectorâ€“General and 27 other private citizens with due regard to resolving these matters in the best interest of the nation.
In conclusion, I would like to register our gratitude to members of Council for their sustained interest in and engagement with Sierra Leone. We look forward to your steadfast support of our continuing efforts to ensure sustainable peace and long-term prosperity in Sierra Leone and to maintain this so far potentially success story on course. We share the concerns raised by the ERSG on the steady decline in funding of UN operations, UNIPSIL in particular and the adverse effect it will have on UN’s work and credibility. We hope this decline will be effectively addressed by Council.
I thank you for your kind attention.