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Ambassadors Present Credentials

Ambassadors Present Credentials

Freetown: Their Excellencies, the Ambassador designate of the Republic of Austria and the Nigerian High Commissioner designate to the Republic of Sierra Leone presented their Letters of Credence to President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at the Credentials Hall, State House, Freetown on Monday 23rd July.  (Ambassador designate Republic of Austria and HE President Ernest Bai Koroma)

President Koroma said the relationship between Sierra Leone and Nigeria has very deep historical and cultural roots. Many Sierra Leoneans, he said, have Nigerian origins, and there is a large community of Nigerians with Sierra Leonean roots. “Many prominent sons and daughters of Nigeria studied at Fourah Bay College, the oldest Institution of Higher learning in Africa, South of the Sahara. Similarly, Sierra Leoneans have, in recent times, also gone to Nigeria for academic pursuits, especially within the framework of the Agreements on the Sierra Leone-Nigeria Joint Commission of Cooperation,” he said.

The President expressed appreciation for the enormous contributions of the Nigerian Government in human resource capacity building in Sierra Leone, particularly in the fields of education and medicine, through the deployment of the Technical Aid Corps Volunteers (TAC).

According to President Koroma, his government continues to create an enabling environment for Nigerian investment in the country. “This is clearly evident in the operations of a number of Nigerian banks and other businesses in this country. My Government will do whatever it takes to protect these commercial institutions in Sierra Leone. We look forward to having more cooperative relations in the commercial sector as a vehicle for the socio-economic well being of our peoples,” he assured.

The Chief Executive also assured the Nigerian Government of Sierra Leone’s unwavering support as they seek an end to the violent terrorist attacks in that beloved country. He further noted that, “As the most populous country in Africa, and a country that has shown great leadership in championing the cause of a peaceful and prosperous region, a Nigeria free of terrorist threats is great news not only for its citizens, but also for West Africa, and the whole of Africa.”

President Ernest Bai Koroma reaffirmed his government’s commitment to holding free, fair and open presidential, parliamentary and local council elections on the 17th November later this year.

President Koroma reiterated his belief that the situation in Mali and Guinea–Bissau are issues of serious concern to all peace-loving nations. “It is for this reason that my Government remains deeply committed to our collective efforts at both levels of ECOWAS and the AU Commission to restore peace, stability and security to our sub-region,” he concluded.

Presenting his Letters of Credence, the Nigeria High Commissioner designate noted that Sierra Leone and Nigeria have enjoyed excellent relations that go beyond bilateral, multilateral and historical spheres that can neither be enumerated nor quantified.

High Commissioner Asuquo saluted the leadership qualities of President Koroma, while noting that Sierra Leone’s support and endorsement of Nigerians elected into various positions in both regional and international organizations is worthy of commendation. He also profusely thanked His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma for the return of the oil block SL-5 to Oranto Petroleum Company which has further strengthened the confidence of Nigerian investors to invest in Sierra Leone. “I wish to express my profound appreciation for the recent invitation to honour President Jonathan with the highest honour in Sierra Leone.

The Nigerian Envoy commended the active peacekeeping role Sierra Leone is playing in Africa. He also commended President Koroma for the massive infrastructural development efforts all across the country, saying the sustainability of which will no doubt lead to economic growth, employment opportunities and increase revenue generation. Commissioner Asuquo also applauded the President’s efforts toward the consolidation of democracy, especially on the observance of human rights in Sierra Leone.

As the Nigerian High Commissioner was preparing to take his leave of President Koroma, the strains of the Austrian national anthem “Land of Mountains, land on the river” reverberated in the air across the State Avenue neighbourhood in preparation for the arrival of the Republic of Austria’s new envoy Gerhard Deiss, the second ambassador to present his credentials to His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Monday23rd July.

President Koroma noted that Sierra Leone has greatly benefited from the International Community, including the Austrians in implementing Sierra Leone’s transformative programs. He thanked the Government of the Republic of Austria for their invaluable contributions towards the development aspirations of Sierra Leone in the post war reconstruction process through United Nations Agencies, the European Union and Non-Governmental Organizations.

“Mr. Ambassador, we are transforming our country into a stable and consolidated democracy that is attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in almost every sector of the economy. This year our economy is projected to grow by over 35% and we invite businesses in Austria to seize our opportunities for growth and be part of our economic transformation,” President Koroma maintained.

Ambassador Gerhard Deiss expressed his government’s commitment to further strengthen the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries. He informed President Koroma of his government’s plans to install a new Austrian Honorary Consul in Freetown.

The Austrian Ambassador also informed the President of their contributions to the Centre for Renewable Energies, ECREE, in Cape Verde, which, he said, “has also recently selected three projects for Sierra Leone.” He went on to reveal that his government has been very much supportive of the efforts of ECOWAS in the field of disarmament as well as combating crime and drug trafficking through UNODC, particularly through the Transnational Crime Unit in Sierra Leone. “Austria also contributed to the UNIDO-Multi-Stakeholders Program for combating youth unemployment for the countries of the Mano River Union and has taken part in the HIPC and MDRI Initiative.

The Austrian Envoy commended the Government of President Koroma for the remarkable progress made so far as a result of the tireless efforts to bring back the country to the track of stability with the promise of strong economic development and creating opportunities for job and employment, particularly for the youth and the people affected by years of conflict. “We are particularly heartened by the strong signals that democratization and rule of law are growing in Sierra Leone. The struggle against corruption gives a perfect example for the progress made in good governance and the time where impunity was accepted seems now definitely over,” he said.

The ceremony was witnessed by Cabinet Ministers, and senior government officials, members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation protocol staff, and the State House Press Corps.

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