Australian High Commissioner Bids Farewell, ECOWAS/AU Elections Commission Meets President Koroma
The outgoing Australian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone William (Billy) William who was resident in Accra, Ghana, has on 3rd October 2012 taken former leave of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma during a farewell courtesy call held at State House to mark the completion of his posting in West Africa. (Photo: President Koroma hosts Australian High Commissioner)
Welcoming the Australian High Commissioner, President Koroma expressed profound delight over the sound bilateral relations that exist between the two countries. He commended the Australian government for making significant contributions to the country’s agricultural and food self-sufficiency drive and the recent training of Sierra Leonean peacekeepers in Accra. President Koroma informed Billy William about the priority programmes under the “Agenda for Prosperity” and expressed hope that Sierra Leone and Australia will continue to enjoy perfect ties, saying the country will sorely miss the Australian diplomat.
He encouraged the outgoing High Commissioner to go and serve as the Sierra Leone ambassador in Australia; “you now have the opportunity to go and present the good picture of Sierra Leone to your country,” he said.
In his farewell remarks, Mr. Billy William highlighted the areas of aid intervention by his government towards Sierra Leone’s development efforts as he recalled that, during his term of service in the country, Australia made significant contributions toward economic growth, long term peace and security through commercial engagements and development assistance. He added that Australia’s aid programmes to Sierra Leone has grown significantly in the last five years, focusing on capacity building in the country’s agricultural, mining and mineral resources sector as well as governance and public policy.
He disclosed that Australia, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has also dished out AUD1.5 million in support of the Smallholders Commercialization Programme (SCP) to improve food security and create job opportunities for youths.
He further revealed that the Australian High Commission has earlier this week launched a project for the training of agricultural officials across the country in food security.
In a similar engagement, a joint Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) panel for election preparedness also informed President Koroma about the commission’s emphasis on elections violence.
Speaking during a brief meeting with the Head of State, the leader of the delegation Dr. Brigalia Bam stated that her team has met with all political parties contesting in the elections and the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
To that end, President Koroma welcomed the move made by the ECOWAS/AU commission before elections day, which he said the joint team will be armed with first hand information from the ground. He said that the integrity of the elections would determine the outcome of the elections results, thus lauded the efforts of the joint team.
NEC, President Koroma said is a major player in the electoral process and has been preparing all this while to put the necessary electioneering procedures in place. He said that there are still outstanding biometric voter registration (BVR) identity cards that have not been collected from the commission, therefore encouraged those who have not receive theirs to quickly do so.
President Koroma said that political parties are also vital partners in the coming elections and have been working very closely with NEC, adding that things are right on track as there is commitment on the part of key players to support the elections.
“We have a responsibility to build on our democratic credentials as it will help the investment opportunities that we are now creating to move the country forward,” President Ernest Bai Koroma concluded.
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