UN Chief’s visit good for Sierra Leone





By John Baimba Sesay-China

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma is expected to receive the
African President of the Year 2013 Award, organized by African
Leadership magazine, in the United States of America late February,
2014. This is positive news for the country. In the words of Alhaji M
B Jalloh, Sierra Leone’s Press Attaché in Saudi Arabia “This latest
award…is a clear manifestation of his recognition at global level for
the transformative leadership which has been the backbone of his
administration since he acceded to power in September 2007” Factually,
given the country’s progress due to the type of leadership that
President Koroma has been providing, it is acceptable for my colleague
in Saudi Arabia to hold such an objective view.

Sierra Leone continues to witness great scores in the areas of
infrastructure, agriculture, youth empowerment, promotion of women’s
right, decentralization and devolution of functions to local councils,
and peace consolidation and stability amongst others, Sierra Leone has
also been making tremendous progress in her health sector for close to
a decade now.  Sierra Leone is a nation that is seriously determined
to move towards fulfilling her development aspirations and so far, the
Government has been moving in this direction, notwithstanding the
challenges.  Great success has been made by Sierra Leoneans in terms
of consolidating the country’s peace.  The pending visit to Sierra
Leone by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon,
slated for March 4th-6th 2014, on the invitation of the Government of
Sierra Leone may not have come as a surprise, given what has been
achieved and with  signs of a brighter future. The UN Chief is to
attend a ceremony to  close the United Nations Integrated
Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL).

UNIPSIL, expected to close down on  31st March 2014, was established
by the United Nations Security Council in 2008 “to provide support to
the Government of Sierra Leone in identifying and resolving tensions
and threats of potential conflict, monitoring and promoting human
rights, and consolidating good governance reforms.”  In the last six
years of operations, UNIPSIL’s mandate  has been  to; “Providing
political support to national and local efforts for identifying and
resolving tension and threats of potential conflict, whatever the
source; Monitoring and promoting human rights, democratic institutions
and the rule of law; including efforts to counter transnational
organized crime and drug trafficking; Consolidating good governance
reforms, with a special focus on anti-corruption instruments such as
the Anti-Corruption Commission; Support decentralization, reviewing
the 1991 Constitution and the enactment of relevant legislation.
Closely coordinating with and supporting the work of the Peacebuilding
Commission as well as the implementation of the Peacebuilding
Cooperation Framework and projects supported through the Peacebuilding
Fund”  ( UNIPSIL’s website)

Realistically, Sierra Leone has had success stories in these areas.
There remains a strong guarantee of good governance, with the practice
of multi-party democracy. With support provided by the United Nations,
the country has consolidated her peace. With gender issues having been
mainstreamed into present day governance issues, there is today a
roust advocacy network across the country with women now empowered
than ever. With aid to the country’s justice system by the UNDP,
Sierra Leone’s justice system can today stand the test of time.  The
country’s post war rule of law keeps gaining ground, especially in
fighting drug trafficking and organized crime. There have been efforts
and initiatives in addressing issues of youth unemployment and
empowerment. Given these and many other successes, the visit by the UN
Chief, Ban Ki-Moon should be expected to help bolster the country’s
confidence building process especially amongst international
development partners. It will serve as an indicator that indeed, the
country has turned its pages to another chapter of her history. Sierra
Leone has a strong commitment to meeting her development challenges.
The two development platforms of the country (Agenda for Change (AfC)
and Agenda for Prosperity (AfP)) are key indicators of this

Edward H. Sandy is a Sierra Leonean PhD scholar (Environmental
Science) presently in China. From his perspective, Sierra Leone has
now fully moved from a post war nation to one with effective and
stable democracy, where the rule of law takes precedence. The pending
visit by the UN Secretary-General, he thinks, will be a confidence
building platform given the success stories therein. Alhassan Kamara,
a post graduate student in International Relations, China Foreign
Affairs University, does not hold a contrary view. “With a lot of
resources that the UN has poured into Sierra Leone and with the
progress the country has witnessed in the last few years in
consolidating her peace, promoting gender related issues and providing
the enable environment for political party pluralism, the closure of
UNIPSIL means we have come a long way” Sierra Leone’s instability that
lasted for over a decade following her civil war was devastating. But
with the resolve of its people, there was an end to that civil
carnage. The United Nations was very instrumental in ensuring an end
to that internal conflict. UNIPSIL is an offspring of UN’s involvement
in fast tracking an end to Sierra Leone’s internal conflict. Generally
from the perspective of civil wars in Africa, Sierra Leone’s ability
to effectively put an end to her war, move to a Peacebuilding nation
and now to one with development aspiration will serve as a case study
for Peacebuilding efforts in Africa. This takes into account as
UNIPSIL’s closure in Sierra Leone.

So the visit will not only help consolidate international confidence
building efforts in Sierra Leone, but it will surely help foster the
country’s development aspirations. It is coming at a time that
President Koroma is taking the country to prosperity, through the
‘Agenda for Prosperity’.  The visit and the closure is also coming at
a time that Sierra Leoneans have seen the need to continue working as
a people for the good of all and sundry. There is only one Sierra
Leone and it is only Sierra Leoneans that can take that country to
where they need it. The presence of UNAMSIL and UNIPSIL in Sierra
Leone has not only help foster peace and security internally, but this
is same at the sub regional level (Mano River Union MRU). And
stability in the MRU means a lot for regional (ECOWAS) peace and
development. The close down of the UNIPSIL will enable other agencies
of the United Nations to focus on more sustainable development
programmes in the country.  As a Sierra Leonean, I am appreciative of
the role the UN played and continues to play in the country’s
development efforts.  It is hope, through its agencies, it will
continue to support the country’s drive to prosperity and give its
fullest support to the successful implementation of government
development projects.

John Baimba Sesay
Press Attaché
Sierra Leone Embassy
7 Dong Zhi Men Wai Dajie,
Chaoyang District, Beijing
People’s Republic of China
*Tel: 0086-13701206875*
* Fax:0086-1065323752*

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