By Alhaji M.B. Jalloh, Press Attaché, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States
Sierra Leone has successfully participated in the 42nd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which was hosted in the State of Kuwait from 27th – 28th May, 2015.
In his opening speech of the two-day ministerial meeting which was held under the theme , “Joint Vision in Promoting Tolerance and Rejecting Terrorism,” His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jabber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, said sectarian strife was the most serious threat facing Muslims and called for immediate action to tackle it.
“We need to take a serious stand against sectarian tensions plaguing and dividing our nations. We are required to intensify efforts with the world to combat terrorism being waged by terrorist organisations,” the Emir of the oil-rich Gulf State told the Ministers.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of Sierra Leone’s delegation to the conference, Dr. Ebun Adebola Strasser King in her speech on Thursday, 28th May, said: “Sierra Leone welcomes dialogue and peaceful settlement of international disputes and will continue to work and support the efforts of the OIC in achieving a peaceful and stable society in all the member countries for its entire people to enjoy prosperity.”
She also commended the efforts of the OIC Member States and the wider International Community for rendering assistance to Ebola affected countries.
“On the sub-regional front, we are particularly grateful for the timely and coordinated response of the global community in complementing the efforts of our three countries; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the fight against the Ebola scourge,” she said to the Ministers of the 57-member states organization.
As struggle to put the Ebola Disease behind us, the Acting Foreign Affairs Chief added, we look forward to further support through the OIC Trust Fund for the most affected countries in addressing the humanitarian and post-Ebola recovery projects.
The second top Sierra Leonean diplomat said despite the isolation, stigmatization, travel restrictions and economic difficulties endured by the three Mano River Union countries, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) “has now been considerably subdued” as exemplified by the recent declaration of Liberia as Ebola free, single digits or zero infection rates in Sierra Leone and reduced infection rate in Guinea.
She therefore, appealed, to sister countries in this region to lift the visa restrictions imposed on the three countries, pending the declaration of the end of Ebola. The Minister also met with some Foreign Ministers on the side-lines of the conference. One of them is the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, Abul Hassam Mahmood Ali. During their meeting, issues of common interest were discussed and ways of enhancing cooperation and developing bilateral relations in order to achieve common interests with their respective countries.
During the conference, member states discussed political, economic, social, cultural and technological issues as well as conflicts in the Islamic world.
Wrapping up the 42nd Session on Thursday, the Ministers and Heads of delegations of member states, affirmed their full commitment to support the objectives and principles of the OIC in order to benefit the Muslim Ummah and secure its common interests within the OIC framework; so as to promote Islamic solidarity and Joint Islamic Action.
The delegates also reiterated their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms. They also expressed, in the same vein, the need to combat terrorist groups and those who support and finance them and their heinous practices which they say, “have nothing to do with the noble religion of Islam”, stressing that these groups can in no means be linked to the noble Islamic religion because, as they put it, “terrorism has no region or nationality.”
The session also expressed solidarity with African countries in their fight against poverty and the development challenges facing the continent.
Members of the Sierra Leone delegation included; Acting Director General of the Ministry, Paul Ansumana Minah, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Permanent Representative to the OIC, Alhaji Mohamed Sillah Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s Envoy to the State Kuwait, Ibrahim Bakarr Kamara, OIC Desk Officer at the Foreign Ministry, Christopher Bockarie and Acting Head of Chancery in Kuwait, Sulaiman Turay.
Below is the full speech of the Acting Minister:
GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE
MINISTERY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE
- EBUN A. STRASSER-KING,
- MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS & INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE AT THE 42ND SESSION OF THE COUNCIL OF FOREIGN MINISTERS OF THE ORGANISATION OF ISLAMIC COOPERATION
27 – 28 MAY, 2015 – THE STATE OF KUWAIT
Mr. Chairman, His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to address the 42nd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC.
In doing so, let me at the outset, convey fraternal greetings from His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, to His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir, Government and people of the State of Kuwait and to the entire Muslim Umaah.
My sincere gratitude to His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait, for the warm reception and generous hospitality accorded me and my delegation since our arrival in this beautiful and historic city of Kuwait.
Mr. Chairman, I congratulate you on your assumption of the Chairmanship of our Organisation and wish you success in all your
Special thanks to the out gone Chairman His Excellency Adel Al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and His Excellency Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary-General of the OIC for the excellent arrangements put in place to ensure a successful conduct of this Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting.
The theme of this 42nd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers “Joint Vision in Promoting tolerance and Rejecting Terrorism” is apt and appropriate. Indeed, we are convening at a time when the global community has had to grapple with the consequences of a range of natural disasters, deadly epidemics and, in particular, an increasing wave of terrorist insurgencies and unrests across the globe.
In light of this, we have no alternative but to act and work together in the eradication of these threats which are militating against peaceful co-existence and development of the world.
I would like to also commend the efforts of the OIC Member States and the wider International Community for rendering assistance to countries that have been facing crises of diverse nature. On the sub-regional front, we are particularly grateful for the timely and coordinated response of the global community in complementing the efforts of our three countries; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the fight against the Ebola scourge. As struggle to put the Ebola Disease behind us, we look forward to further support through the OIC Trust Fund for the most affected countries in addressing the humanitarian and post-Ebola recovery projects.
Despite the isolation, stigmatization, travel restrictions and economic difficulties endured by these countries; the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has now been considerably subdued as exemplified by the recent declaration of Liberia as Ebola free, single digits or zero infection rates in Sierra Leone and reduced infection rate in Guinea. This success can be attributed to very tough decisions and sacrifices made by our respective Governments and Peoples as well as the support of the International Community. We want to use this opportunity to appeal to our sister countries in the Asia continent to lift the visa restrictions imposed on our countries pending the declaration of the end of Ebola.
Peace and development are mutually reinforcing and therefore the more nations continue to dive into conditions of instability, the more elusive are the prospects for socio-economic growth and prosperity. Thus the urgency of the need to work together as a united front and with one voice in finding urgent solutions to the causes of conflicts and acts of terrorism cannot be over-emphasised.
Inaction, or doing little, is an unintended complicity in the commission of atrocities on the vulnerable sectors of society – women, children and the elderly, who are always the most affected in situations of conflicts, acts of insecurity and terror. Partial to the theme of this session, we must endeavour to undertake initiatives ranging from humanitarian activities to mediation with a view to nurturing and promoting the culture of peace and tolerance among peoples. Sierra Leone therefore welcomes dialogue and peaceful settlement of international disputes and will continue to work and support the efforts of the OIC in achieving a peaceful and stable society in all the member countries for its entire people to enjoy prosperity.
We wish to underscore that this noble organisation must strive to portray peace initiatives and ideas coupled with the humanitarian values of the region which must be used as a strong weapon in the fight against Islamophobia. Sierra Leone calls on the OIC to intensify its efforts to uproot terrorism, by sharing relevant information, respect and tolerate each other and to collectively condemn acts of terrorism anywhere in the world.
Let me conclude by informing this assembly that the new focus of the political leadership of Sierra Leone under His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma is the post Ebola recovery programme and a continuation of the implementation of the country’s development framework, which is the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’. this Agenda hopes to take us to a middle level income status by 2035.
Thus, the Government of Sierra Leone is looking forward to cooperating and collaborating with all partners at this stage in the country’s development efforts,
I thank you.