REVIEW OF SIERRA LEONE MEDIA REPORT
Public Information Office (PIO) of UNIOSIL – 19 November 2007
[Disclaimer: Excerpts below are from print media and news agency dispatches. UNIOSIL cannot vouch for the accuracy of the media reports].
Sierra Leone faces an era of hope-United Nations Secretary-General
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has congratulated President Ernest Bai Koroma to his election; and the people of Sierra Leone, for participating in peaceful and transparent elections. He underscored that with the successful conclusion of the elections, “Sierra Leone faces an era of hope. The people are waiting to see tangible improvements in their lives.” The UN Secretary-General also highlighted the significant role played by the world body in supporting Sierra Leone’s efforts in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, underscoring that the UN shares the pride of the country in moving forward. The UN Scribe further drew attention to the fact that Sierra Leoneans are looking to the new government to commit itself to consolidating peace; ensuring sustained economic growth; healing ethnic and national wounds; building the capacity of critical state institutions; fostering national reconciliation in addition to addressing the root causes of the war. The UN Secretary-General also stressed that the road ahead would not be easy, and he commended President Koroma on initiatives already taken to build a government of inclusion to address corruption and expedite the delivery of basic services to the people. He assured President Koroma of the UN’s continued support to the country, including the Peace Building Commission. Standard Times, The New Citizen and The Democrat report.
UNIOSIL supports implementing TRC recommendations
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone with the support of UNIOSIL and in collaboration with a number of civil society groups is organizing a Stakeholders’ Conference on the status of implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex, on 19 and 20 November, New Vision reports. The conference is part of ongoing collective efforts by the government and people of Sierra Leone, and their international partners to disseminate and give greater visibility to the TRC report; and to further sensitise the public on its key findings to facilitate their implementation. The conference provides a forum for interface between the key actors on the TRC and to present the opportunity for all stakeholders to be informed of those recommendations that have been implemented thus far, and strategise for a way forward for those that have not been implemented. The decisions reached at this conference, the paper reports, sourcing a UNIOSIL press release, would immensely contribute to greater citizenry interest on the findings of the TRC, and further facilitate the implementation of all the recommendations as contained in the report.
UN Police paves the way for free-flow of traffic in Sierra Leone
The UN Police Section of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNPOL) in conjunction with the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), today, 19 November, started a two-week training programme on traffic management. The purpose of the training programme is to enhance the free-flow of traffic particularly in the capital city, Freetown, as well as to re-organise the entire traffic department of the SLP for a better service; and improving the image of the SLP. The Executive Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Victor Angelo will deliver the key note address on the theme, “Traffic Management and the Economy.” Sourcing a press release from UNOISIL the New Vision reports that the training would be facilitated by nine instructors and was expected to benefit one hundred and twenty-five officers country wide.
State House restricts ex-President from speech-making
The pro-Sierra Leone Peoples Party newspapers, The Democrat and New Vision, allege that ex-President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was prevented from making a handing-over speech after a directive from State House slammed an injunction on him to restrict himself only to the symbolic handing over of the Staff of Office to Sierra Leone’s new President, Ernest Bai Koroma of the All Peoples Congress party during his inauguration on Thursday, 15 November 2007. The story further claims that the directive was issued to the erstwhile President barely two hours to the ceremony after the speech had been prepared, printed and ready for delivery and distribution; and that he was so angry with the rebuff that he threatened to boycott the ceremony although he was prevailed upon to change his mind. The story goes on to say that the President however, succeeded in distributing his speech to visiting dignitaries as well as local political stakeholders. The papers speculate pundits as asserting that the ex-President’s speech, probably the best he would have delivered in his 11 years in power, was so evocative of the records of his government, that it would have completely rubbished many claims later made by President Koroma in his augural address to the nation.
Kono district raises concern over Lebanese diamond dealer
Concern has been raised by the people of Kono district as to why a single individual Lebanese businessman should accrue sales from diamonds more than a registered company that has not only invested millions of dollars in the country, but has also employed hundreds of Sierra Leoneans. A report in the Awoko raises more questions than answers on proceeds from diamond sales between Koidu Holdings and a Diamond exporter of Lebanese dissent, Hisham Mackie. According to a furious elderly statesman in the diamondiferous Kono District, Chief Sacquee, he was yet to come to terms as to why a business man whose contribution is nil in the district should benefit to the tune of US$204 million while Koidu Holdings that has contributed towards the development of the district only accrued a paltry US$87 million. Chief Sacquee reportedly argued that the fact that Koidu Holdings was providing job opportunities to the unemployed youths in the district, he was proud to play host to such company, rather than a single individual who had not employed anyone or even contributed towards any form of development in the country. The traditional ruler disclosed that 90% of diamonds from Kono, ends up in Mackie’s office with no benefit to the district nor the country; a situation he described as very sad, he reportedly told journalists.
(Compiled by UNIOSIL, Public Information Office)