Hon. Ivan Lewis the British Under Secretary of state for International Development has said in Freetown that “there needs to be a very strong message to politicians of all parties that the days of the use of violence in the pursuit of political objectives in this country must be over for ever and the people of Sierra Leone expect nothing less.”.
Mr. Lewis was speaking at State House where he was addressing journalists just after meeting president Koroma during his visit to the country.
Ivan Lewis stated further that they “welcome very much the brokered agreement that we hope will be signed between the political parties very soon but the test of that agreement would be in the delivery and the implementation of whatever the agreement ends up saying.”
He added “we also believe that there must be appropriate investigations by the criminal justice system of the serious allegations that have been made about violence and rape it is not for me to make any judgements about what happened I was not here and the people in this room perhaps were not there either but it is really important that the criminal justice system prevails and takes it full course in terms of responding to that political violence because it is important that the politicians send a very strong message to the people of this country that there is no return to the days of violence and conflict.”
He reassured the government that the “prime minister has made it absolutely clear in terms of the UK that this is not the time to retreat from our commitment to the developing world now is the time for the developed world to step up to the mark and to fulfill its responsibilities so there is absolutely no question of the support that we have offered and committed to Sierra Leone of diminishing as a result of the global recession that we face” adding “… so that continued support is non negotiable of course it is linked to reform and to change.”
The Under Secretary of State who is on a two day visit to Sierra Leone maintained that he has concluded a visit to the Northern part of Matotoka and Tonkolili district where they have supported reproductive health and maternal health care projects.
He stated that some progress has been made since the end of the war in Sierra Leone, expressing hope that it might be maintained.
He categorically explained that, their job is not to rule on our behalf but to support the president and government development strategy.
He talked on the need to reduce poverty, improve on national security, agriculture, water and sanitation and health service delivery in the country.
He said they appreciated the recent cabinet reshuffle move and they would continue their support towards the development of the country, and to also rally around members of the donor community to support Sierra Leone’s development efforts.
He however urged developing nations to step up their efforts in taking responsibility of their development programmes stressing that their support to Sierra Leone is not negotiable.
He announced the provision of 16 million pounds sterling towards the reproductive health and maternal care to empower personnel through training or capacity building, provision of drugs and other essential equipments that would aid in reducing reproductive and maternal problems.
Ivan Lewis also said 10 million pounds was allocated towards budget support and 2 million pounds was allocated to the Anti Corruption Commission as an addition to the 2.7 million pounds last years to fight corruption noting that ,they have no doubt in the credibility of the leadership of ACC as he is a man of integrity who has zero tolerance to corruption. 28 million pounds in total was allocated as new resources.
The minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation Hon. Zainab Bangura described the visit as timely because it serves as a clear indication of commitment on the part of the British government in supporting Sierra Leone through the Department for International Development DFID.