As Sierra Leoneans celebrate Independence Anniversary in Germany, Ambassador Stevens highlights post war challenges
Sierra Leone’s 50th Independence Anniversary has triggered concerns regarding the country’s socio economic and political development status. While those issues have been taken into consideration by government authorities and Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, plans are underway to move the country off the ground. (Photo: Ambassador Stevens delivering his speech)
Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, HE Jongopie S. Stevens, is among those who have decided to join the bandwagon to accelerate efforts of both his government and compatriots to achieve that admirable feat.
In a speech delivered at the official celebration of the country’s independence anniversary at the Intercontinental Hotel in Berlin Wednesday 27, Ambassador Stevens highlighted issues he believed that are crucial in a post conflict Sierra Leone.
They include amongst others, economic instability amidst global economic meltdown, food security, unemployment, infrastructural development, maternal and child mortality, HIV/AIDS, trans-national crimes like drug trafficking and money laundering, including corruption and justice sector reforms.
He maintained that Sierra Leoneans are quite clear about what their country needs in the coming years adding that democratic governance, inter-ethnic harmony, religious tolerance gender equity coupled with unity and freedom, are key elements towards sustainable growth in the country.
The Ambassador said, “Notwithstanding all these challenges, the Government of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has, since assuming office, committed itself to address all the issues that could guarantee good governance and economic development in Sierra Leone.” He attributed it to the introduction of his government’s Agenda for Change, which he said is focussing on a large-scale transformation of the country’s economy including public services, thus improving the social and economic conditions of all Sierra Leoneans.
The country, he went on, is committed to not only transforming the lives and people after a horrible past, but also to a peaceful world by supporting democratic aspirations particularly in countries where democracy is being threatened.
“In that direction amidst our very peculiar circumstance, Sierra Leone has contributed troops to the UN Mission in Darfur, while President Ernest Bai Koroma was among the eminent group of ECOWAS Heads of State that made initial mediation efforts in the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. The role of President Koroma in transforming the UN is epitomized by his Chairmanship of the African Committee of Ten (C10) on the reform of the organization,” he opined.
While describing the 50th anniversary as a momentous occasion depicting an important milestone in the country’s history, Ambassador Stevens reiterated Germany’s contribution to his country.
“As soon as Sierra Leone attained its independence in 1961, Germany was among the very first countries that established diplomatic relations with us and since then that relationship has grown and is still growing to the heights of mutual benefits to our two countries.”
He called for partnerships to expand the country’s rich economic potentials, especially iron ore, gold, diamonds and agriculture.
“We therefore crave the participation of the Federal Republic of Germany and other friendly countries in these expanding opportunities for mutual benefit.”
On his part, the Director General for African affairs at the German Foreign office, Walter Lindner, congratulated the Ambassador and his fellow compatriots for the occasion marking the country’s 50th anniversary.
Mr Lindner mentioned his country’s role in recognising Sierra Leone as an independent state since April 27 1961. He reiterated the horrible experience faced by Sierra Leoneans as a result of the ten-year civil conflict.
Lindner highlighted the substantial progress made by Sierra Leone in combating corruption and ending impunity in recent times.
The director believed that several success stories exist across Africa but that most of them are not perceived outside the region.
He further pledged his commitment in ensuring that positive steps undertaken by African countries, including Sierra Leone, become visible.
Umaru S. Jah, Berlin
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