“Free and fair elections are a fundamental element of democracy and good governance” Amb. Bockari Stevens
Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States of America His Excellency Bockari kortu Stevens says – “Participatory governance which the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma practices – promotes many forms of citizen participation beyond voting: but nevertheless, free and fair elections are a fundamental element of democracy and good governance. (Photo: l-r Ambassador Bockari Stevens explaining the concept of Good Governance, and Ambassador I S Conteh)
Speaking to community leaders, heads of organizations and other key Sierra Leonean opinion leaders in the United States of America, at the Conference Hall of the 1701 19th Street NW Washington DC Chancery on Saturday February 9th 2013, Ambassador Bockari Stevens debunked allegations of elections fraud and said the whole world stood by Sierra Leone watching-on November 17th, during the conduct of the elections. It was certified by the whole world to be free, fair, transparent and credible.
Reiterating his stance, Ambassador Stevens categorically stated that” the November 17th polls were “Credible, Free and fair”. Adding, the government is now focused on implementing the “Agenda for Prosperity. “There is no turning back”.
According to National Publicity/Outreach Coordinator and Communications Advisor, Office of the Government Spokesman, Mr. Abdulai Baraytay, and “Free and fair elections are the cornerstones of all forms of democracy”. He said the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma does not have the resources to bribe its way – to influence the findings of elections observers of the November 17th Polls. “In many representative democracies, elections are practically the only means, whereby citizens/voters can participate and hold the political parties, candidates and the incumbent governments accountable for their promises and performance.
The People of Sierra Leone spoke with one voice to reward President Ernest Bai Koroma with a vote that led to a resounding victory in the November 17th Polls for transforming Sierra Leone from where it was (Poorest Nation in the World, Most Corrupt Country in the World, Least developed Country in the World, darkest city in the world etc.) to one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, coupled with an independent Anti – graft agency with one of the strongest laws in the world”, said Mr. Bayraytay.
The Spokesman recalled four years ago, when the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma completed the first phase of Bumbuna Hydroelectric project and said the Lungi International Airport is not what it used to be.” The structure has been transformed coupled with state of the art security equipment to ensure safety and to also prevent all forms of smuggling and illegal activities taking place.
He said what used to be the single outlet of Freetown, is now a thing of the past: the government of President Koroma has constructed many roads on the Mountains, the seaside and the Hill side. To make mention of inland and improved water ways need not be overemphasized.
“Over the past decade, Sierra Leone’s economic performance resulted in marginal poverty reduction, with the proportion of people living on less than US$ 1 a day. “Today, Sierra Leone has sustained progress geared- towards several Millennium Development Goals (MDG). “It is on track in reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, slowing down the loss of biodiversity and achieving full and productive employment. “Also on track is increasing universal education through the implementation of one of Sierra Leone’s Commission’s report on education in Sierra Leone- Professor Gbamanja’s recommendation.”
Mr. Bayraytay said achieving gender parity, reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence, increasing the proportion of people with access to antiretroviral drugs; and enhancing the proportion of women in national parliaments is also on course.
Though there are challenges, Mr. Bayraytay said there is no quick fix solution to any problem, which is why the government has targeted access to safe drinking water and reducing hunger, with additional efforts which are now being stepped up.
Several speakers spoke on the issues highlighted above and called for more meetings of such kind. They thanked Ambassador Stevens for the briefing and expressed satisfaction over the clarification of the November 17th elections and the update regarding issues and status of the country.
They also requested a channel through which the various Sierra Leonean communities will be channeling their own support to the Country. Earlier, the Head of Chancery/Counselor Mrs. Isatu A. S. Sillah introduced Mr. Bayraytay.
In his vote of thanks, Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador I.S. Conteh thanked Ambassador Stevens, Mr. Bayraytay and the entire Sierra Leonean Community represented, and made reference to similar meetings held in Maryland in recent past. He also assured Sierra Leoneans that meetings of such nature will be held in a not too distant future.
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