Posted by: APO | 21 December 2007



Public Information Office (PIO) of UNIOSIL – 21 December 2007


[Disclaimer: Excerpts below are from print media and news agency dispatches. UNIOSIL cannot vouch for the accuracy of the media reports].


Local Elections 5 July 2008, NEC’s neutrality questions

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has announced 5 July as the date for the Local Council elections. Speaking to journalists at a news conference at the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), the Director of Operations NEC, Mr. Nfa Alie Conteh, said, for the first time NEC will be conducting two separate local council elections, one for that of Mayor or Chairman of councils and the other for the Councilors. According to The New Citizen, The Spectator and Concord Times this change is due to the fact that the law makes provision for the holding of two separate elections. A commentary in the pro-SLPP New Vision has questioned the neutrality of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in conducting the July 2008 Local Council Elections following the controversial manner in which the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections were held under the auspices of Dr. Christiana Thorpe. The report says with the controversial outcome of the presidential run-off elections still fresh in the minds of Sierra Leoneans, people are wondering whether the Local elections will be transparent and credible. The report says some people particularly the opposition, are very much apprehensive of NEC’s credibility to conduct the July 2008 local elections as NEC is not evenly constituted along regional lines. “Unless the commission is reconstituted taking into consideration ethnic and regional balance, and that Dr. Christiana Thorpe steps down as Chairperson, there are fears that the out come of the Local elections would not be free, fair and transparent,” the report concludes.


President Koroma commissions 15 megawatts generator

President Ernest Bai Koroma on Thursday, 20 December 2007, commissioned a 15-megawatt thermal plant at the Kingtom Power Station in fulfillment of his government’s promise to provide electricity for the nation within the shortest possible time. Minister of Energy and Power, Haja Afsatu Kabbah disclosed at the ceremony that President Koroma is a visionary leader who is exploring his corporate background to move the country to the highest peak by putting premium on the provision of electricity. She said that this is a stop gap measure as the government comes to grips with the Bumbuna Hydro-Electric Project, completion of which, will guarantee the nation sustainable and affordable power supply. She admonished Sierra Leoneans to work together as a family for the development of the country. The Energy Minister praised the efforts of SLPP strong man and former Ambassador to Ghana, Alie Bangura, as being instrumental in getting the generators to Freetown on time. “Had it not been for the efforts of Ambassador Bangura, the generators would have been stuck in Ghana, but his timely intervention saved the situation,” she said. In his address, President Koroma expressed gratitude to the World Bank that provided the generator and Global Trading Company for facilitating the arrival of the machines and cautioned employees of the Authority not to connive with thieves to pilfer fuel and equipment as was the case in the past. The Pro-SLPP New Vision reported that the generators are not cost-effective as the Authority needs a staggering US$79,000 on a daily basis to procure diesel to run all the thirty-one caterpillar engines. The report highlights that the end users will have to pay a great deal for the facility as electricity tariff will more than quadruple.


President Ernest Koroma prays with Muslims

What appears as a conciliatory move to foster unity and peace among Sierra Leone was demonstrated by President Ernest Koroma on Wednesday 19 December when he observed the Eid-Ul-Adha prayers with Muslims at the National Stadium. The president is the first Christian Head of State to observe prayers with Muslims and most of the worshipers were full of praise for his tireless efforts at national reconciliation. According to The New
Citizen, President Koroma was thoroughly mobbed after prayers with every worshiper clamoring to shake his hands for his exemplary behaviour as a Christian leader who continues to demonstrate religious harmony and peaceful coexistence.


Tragedy hits Freetown, 18 fears dead

Business in the central district of Freetown came to a grinding halt following a series of explosions at a house along Free Street that resulted in the death of eighteen people including a Lebanese national. The cause of the explosion according to reports emanated from a faulty generator that ignited the blast from gas canisters that were stored in the building. According to Ibrahim F.H. Suma of the National Fire Force, they were informed of a fire out break and reported immediately to the scene to put out the fire. During the operation, he said, there was a loud explosion in the house that almost shook it to its foundation with gas canisters flying out of the building leaving close to 18 people dead and many more wounded. The victims were mostly business people and passers-by. About 33 people were said to have sustained serious injuries and were reportedly admitted at the Connaught Hospital. According to Captain J.B Murray of the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLAF) the magnitude of the blast is a clear indication that there must have been some explosives in the building. He said they will be mounting a thorough investigation into the incident. The disaster is front page headline news in most of the tabloids, among them are; Awoko, We Yone, Independent Observer, The Exclusive, Standard Times, Concord Times, For Di People, The Pool and New Vision.


Government to implement Right to Food Policy- Agriculture Minister

According to The News, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Sam Sesay has said that the Ministry will work hard towards the achievement of food security for the country consistent with the right to food policy adopted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Minister further disclosed that government will promote food security so as to reduce poverty, stressing that agriculture is vital to the advancement of any country. The Minister lauded the efforts of former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah for empowering farmers with agricultural tools to improve food security but noted that there is still room for improvement. He underscored that agriculture accelerates industrial development and also generates employment “agriculture is the engine of economic growth.” Dr. Sesay further pointed out that the deplorable state of the road network in the country hinders the transportation of agricultural products to market centers disclosing that the Ministry will partner with line Ministries to address the anomaly.




(Compiled by UNIOSIL, Public Information Office)


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