President Ernest Koroma yesterday announced that his government would establish a National Commission for the control of arms and light weapons in Sierra Leone.
The president made this pledge during the opening ceremony of the Economic Community of West African States small Arms Control Programme (ECOSAP)’s Consultative conference on the theme “Affirmative action for an arms-free Sierra Leone for peace, good governance and sustainable development” at the Kimbima Hotel in Freetown.
President Koroma said small arms had contributed to the prolongation of conflicts in many countries including Sierra Leone.
He said despite a relatively successful DDR programme and the destruction of weapons in the country, the proliferation of weapons still posed a problem in the country.
The president stated that if the proliferation of small arms was not contained “we will not meet our millennium target in 2015”.
He acknowledged the support of the UN and ECOWAS in their help to curb the flow of small arms and light weapons and stated that his government would support the ECOWAS convention against small arms and light weapons.
The national chairman of the ECOWAS Small Arms Control Programme (ECOSAP), Larry Bassie who was also the chair, said the consultative conference was to raise public awareness on the prevention of arms proliferation into Sierra Leone and offered an opportunity to chart out a way forward for the nation to deal with the scourge.
Mr Bassie stated that, “the conference is to herald a country survey which will be conducted by consultants hired by the UNDP with the scope to determine small arms numbers within the country and also discerning the challenges to national arms and ammunition stockpile administration and management processes”.
Hon Ibrahim Sorie, chairman for the Global Parliamentary Commission on Small Arms and Light weapons, gave assurances of the Sierra Leone parliament’s commitment to the curbing of ammunition in the country.
He said they had been working with the Small Arms Focal Committee, Sierra Leone Action Network on Small Arms (SLANSA) to harmonize the firearms regulation for the country with the ECOWAS Convention and the Arms Trade Treaty.
Brigadier (rtd) Kellie Conteh, the head of national security in the country, defined small arms and light weapons as the “greatest threat to security all over the world”
He promised that his office would coordinate and support all activities to curb this scourge in Sierra Leone.
Statements were made by representatives from British and American Embassies in the country.