His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his delegation on Saturday, 11th November, 2017 were received at The Vatican by the Head of the world’s Roman Catholic Faith, Jorge Mario Bergoglio otherwise called, Pope Francis.
Before the traditional handshake and taking of photos of the President and delegation, Pope Francis held a closed door one-on-one bilateral meeting with President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Later, President Koroma introduced his Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura Kamara to the Pope as his heir apparent and further introduced the rest of the delegation. The Pope shook hands and took photos with each and every member of the delegation, prayed for the President, his government, the people and for peace to continue prevailing not only in Sierra Leone but the world at large.
The President was later ushered into the office of The Vatican’s Secretary of State (Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Vatican) and further held bilateral discussions that were focused on education, health, good governance, religious and political tolerance and human rights.
Earlier on Friday, 10th November, President Koroma was hosted by the Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni. The President informed him that he was in Italy to thank the government and people of Italy for the support to his government and the people of Sierra Leone especially during the Ebola and in other bilateral and multilateral areas. He informed the Prime Minister that his constitutional two term mandate will end after the conduct of the March 7th, 2018 elections. He extended an official invitation to the Italian government to send an Observer mission team to Sierra Leone for the elections to have more credibility.
Prime Minister Gentiloni, promised to deepen the bilateral relations between the two countries and recounted some of the contributions of Italian companies to the economy of Sierra Leone, mentioning the Salini Construction (SALCOST) as one of them.
Similarly, President Koroma held fruitful bilateral talks with representatives of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO); the World FKoroma.ood Programme (WFP) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Reporting from The Vatican in Rome, Italy.