Unlike the previous ruling SLPP government which earned the notoriety of selling diplomatic edifices belonging to the people of Sierra Leone ( like the former Sierra Leone High Commission building in London and the Ambassador’s residence in New York), the APC government of President Ernest Bai Koroma is busy acquiring landed properties in strategic countries to rebrand the image of Sierra Leone in the eyes of the International Community.
On Wednesday, 25th August, 2015, another historic moment was recorded in the diplomatic arena (especially in the city considered as Europe’s diplomatic capital-Brussels), when the pro-active and go-get-it Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, His Excellency, Hon. Ibrahim Sorie put pen-to-paper on behalf of the government and people of Sierra Leone to acquire the next door neighbouring building, adjacent to the present Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels, after the government has successfully fulfilled the financial obligation.
During the historic signing ceremony at the office of the legendary Belgian Lawyer, Liliane Panneels and witnessed by the diplomatic staff at the Embassy, Ambassador Sorie expressed thanks and appreciation to the property owners for accepting to sell their building to the government of Sierra Leone, describing them (couple) as ‘very good and friendly neighbours’.
He said he was extremely delighted that the process of purchasing the adjacent building has finally come to fruition and thanked all the key players for their valuable contributions.
Ambassador Sorie furthered that the acquisition of the new building will create enough office spaces for diplomatic staff to give their maximum output in the execution of their duties.
The present Sierra Leone Chancery in Brussels was acquired in 1978 by former President, Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens when the Embassy was established with Dr. Sheka Kanu as the first Sierra Leone Ambassador to Brussels. Others who have served as Sierra Leone’s Ambassadors to Brussels include; Mr. Sahr Matturi, Justice Abdul Gadri Koroma, Mrs Marian J. T. Kamara, Mr. Sulaiman Timbo, Mr. Peter J. Kuyembeh, Mr. Fode Dabor and Dr. Christian Sheka Kargbo.
Since that time, the Embassy has remained the same with no expansion. Diplomatic staff continue to squeeze in office spaces, thereby hampering their effectiveness.
This uncomfortable situation was explained to President Ernest Bai Koroma during his visits to Brussels, a situation he once described as ‘appalling and unacceptable’. But with the acquisition of the new property, which will be made available to the Sierra Leone government on 21st February, 2016, the issue of office constraint would have been laid to rest.
In his tireless efforts to rebrand the once battered image of Sierra Leone since his assumption of office in 2007, President Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC government has successfully opened new Embassies in Senegal, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and South Korea.
Added to that, for the first time in the political history of Sierra Leone, a total of 13 (Thirteen) practising journalists were given diplomatic appointments, attached to different Sierra Leone Embassies world over to help tell the correct story of Sierra Leone to their countries of accreditation.
By Chernor Ojuku Sesay,
Sierra Leone Embassy,