By M.B. Jalloh, Press Attaché, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States
Sierra Leone’s President has told leaders of the 57-Member State Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that the right to self –determination is an inalienable right of people the world over; irrespective of their size, race, color or ethnic origin and that right must be respected by all and sundry.
The statement was made on behalf of His Excellency, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura Kamara at the Fifth Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Shariff hosted at the Jakarta Convention Center, Indonesia from 6th -7th March, 2016.
Two states, Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security is the only viable option and goal that we ought to pursue, the President said in his message to the OIC leaders in his statement read by the Foreign Minister.
In the statement, President Koroma, like the other OIC leaders, endorsed the French Initiative calling for the establishment of an international group of support and for holding an international peace conference as a spring board to re-launch a realistic roadmap for the peace process that would put an end to occupation and pave the way for the achievement of the two-State solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.
The Jakarta Declaration issued at the end of two-day summit reiterated support for the Palestinian cause as the Muslim leaders from the 49 member states attending the Summit. Sierra Leone reaffirmed its principled position on both the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the two-state solution with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (East Jerusalem) as the capital of the State of Palestine and, the State of Israel living in secured borders and at peace with each other. Sierra Leone expressed the spirit of Islamic unity and solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The Declaration stressed the need for the enhancement of efforts by Muslim countries and the OIC for the just solution to Palestine issue and extended support for the social and religious rights of the Palestinian people.
It also called on the international community to urge the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to address the question of Israel’s illegal settlements that undermines the two-state solution, enthrone peace and provide international protection to the Palestinian people.
The Declaration called for the intensification of efforts to support Palestinian national reconciliation under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas in order to solidify the stance of the Palestinian people in combating the occupation.
In a meeting held on the sidelines of the summit, Dr. Samura Kamara suggested to the OIC Secretary General, H.E Iyad Ameen the need for devising a strategy to find solutions to the problems and conflicts particularly confronting the Muslim countries.
In a joint news conference with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi, Dr. Samura Kamara told reporters that he was confident the summit would be a major milestone in enhancing solidarity among OIC member countries and supporting the Palestinian cause.
Some of the world leaders in attendance included: The host Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, Palestine President, Mahmoud Abbas, Mamnoon Hussain of Pakistan, Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi of Yemen, Gambia’s Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy, Foreign Ministers and representatives of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and representatives from United States, Russia, UN, European Union, among others.
Dr. Samura Kamara was also accompanied by Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Permanent Representative to the OIC, Alhaji M.S Kargbo, Minister Counsellor/ Head of Chancery at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Riyadh, Sulay-Manah Kpukumu and the Director of Asia and Middle East at the Foreign Ministry, Al-Hassan Kondeh.
See full statement below:
H.E. DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA
President of the Republic of Sierra Leone
At The Fifth Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif Jakarta, Indonesia, 6th – 7th March 2016 Delivered by
H.E. DR. SAMURA M. W. KAMARA
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Mr. Chairman, President Joko Widodo,
Your Excellency, Secretary-General of the OIC,
Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Distinguished Heads of Delegation,
I bring you greetings from His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. He has asked me to convey his profound apologies for not being able to participate in this historic meeting and to wish you successful deliberations. He has therefore commissioned me to deliver this message on his behalf.
“I wish to express sincere thanks and appreciation to you my brother, H.E. President Joko Widodo, the Government and people of the Republic of Indonesia for hosting this very important Summit.
My heart also goes to the Government and people of Indonesia, in particular, the bereaved families and victims of the recent terrorist bombing of Jakarta on January 16, 2016 that left seven (7) people dead and several injured. May the Almighty Allah grant them merciful compassion and peaceful rest, and punish the perpetrators of such heartless act.
Mr. Chairman, allow me to preface my intervention on the very important subject of this Summit by congratulating you on your assumption of the Chairmanship of this process and to thank your predecessor for his strong leadership and effective management of his tenure. On a personal note, let me on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone express our sincere gratitude to the leadership of this organization and member states for their valued support and contributions toward the fight to defeat the dreadful Ebola virus in Sierra Leone and the other worst affected sister Republics of Guinea and Liberia in the Mano River Union Basin.
We are now in yet another daunting stage – the post-Ebola Recovery phase to re-track the socio-economic development trajectory the country was garnering before the outbreak of the scourge. The path will be bumpy and foggy but we will continue to count on your solidarity and support in restoring the gains we have made as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and which were severely disrupted.
Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies
The right to self –determination is an inalienable right of people the world over irrespective of their size, race, color or ethnic origin and we believe that it is a right that must be respected by all and sundry. We commend the efforts of all stakeholders in the various initiatives undertaken to attainment of the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people.
Today marks yet another very significant milestone in the 45-year life span of our organization, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – the hosting of a special Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif. As a member of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Sierra Leone firmly believes that this Summit is not only timely but it comes at a time when the conscience of the global community, the region and the entire Islamic Ummah should speedily map out concrete actions and implement practical steps towards the realization of the Two-States solution allowing Israel and Palestine to live side-by-side within secure and recognized borders, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and other initiatives such as the Quartet’s Road Map and Arab Peace Initiative.
Mr. Chairman, it is however disconcerting to state that notwithstanding all efforts by way of mediations and in facilitating negotiations, the Two-State solution continues to be a mirage. Life in the Palestinian territory particularly women and children continues to be abnormal and untenable. Pictures of the daily life of the People of Palestine are not only harrowing but gloomy and with no hope of children being guaranteed of a ‘homeland’. The situation can be aptly described as a ceaseless interplay of fundamental disagreement on key aspects of the peace process such as mutual recognition; well-defined borders; control of Jerusalem, holy sites; security; freedom of movement and water rights.
Year in year out, we churn and turn over periodic resolutions while the social, cultural, economic and political conditions in the region continue to deteriorate. Violence continues to be rife and there is no visible progress in sight by way of alleviation of the sufferings of the Palestinian people.
No level or magnitude of occupation and/or persistent pounding of communities and factional differences can be viable options for a peaceful co-existence – the answer lies only in the two-state solution over all other preferences. This is what constitutes the most viable means of resolving the conflict and responding to the yearning desire of the majority of the regular Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The heightening violence and bloodshed fueled by the dispute over the occupation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the last five months is deplorable and disheartening and this is continually undermining the on-going rounds of peace talks and processes aimed at achieving the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state in line with the two-state solution and the peaceful co-existence of countries in the region.
Our duty at this Summit must be to urge all key stakeholders to stand up against occupation and violence as a means of asserting authority and to call for the resumption of meaningful negotiations toward the two-state solution with Al-Quds Al-Sharif (East Jerusalem) as capital of the State of Palestine.
We must take bold steps to ensure the implementation of the provisions of all relevant resolutions and peace plans and initiatives laid out for the attainment of peace, security and stability in the region. We must capacitate the OIC Secretariat and the Secretary-General to advance the voice, legitimacy, influence and political status of the organization in advancing the two-state solution. We must appreciate and give maximum attention and effect to the French Initiative; we must forge greater unity and solidarity within the OIC and the Islamic Ummah around the plight of the Palestinian situation for just solution.”
I thank you very much.