President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday told members of the G7+ countries on the launch of the Fourth Global Meeting of the International Dialogue that Sierra Leone “has got its hope back which was lost during war.”
President Koroma said, Sierra Leone after the war, about 70,000 people lost their lives, while over 2.6 million people were displaced, business, infrastructure, homes and dreams had been destroyed. Near the end of the war, the average citizen survived on the equivalent of 38 cents a day and over 1 out of every 4 children did not get to their 5th birthday.
He added that the country in 2002 “was a living manifestation of the maxim that ‘Conflict is development in reverse’, stating that this situation has now changed as Sierra Leone is observing an emergence of hope.”
Explaining about hope, the President said “hope is hard to create but very easy to destroy, without hope, you don’t plan for the future, you don’t invest in business, education, or strive for better things, and you live by the rule that everything you have today could be gone tomorrow.
Explaining about how the country got its hope back, President Koroma said by ensuring freedom of speech with a lot of print and electronic media all over the country and also through the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act. Also, he said by encouraging inclusive political dialogue as all political parties have signed up to a communiqué that ensures that they dialogue on national issues rather than create chaos when they disagree.
The President disclosed that hope is also achieved by having no political prisoners “and we are pleased to announce that since I took over governance in 2007 for the very first time in the history of this country, we have not had a political prisoner.”
He said this hope “is now making us even more ambitious about our future.
That is why, the overarching goal of our Agenda for Prosperity is to achieve middle income status within a generation.”
He stated that he is aware that “the International Dialogue on Peace-building and State-building embodies three unique elements that can help us and other G7+ countries achieve our common goals. And as a founding member of the G7+, Sierra Leone couldn’t be more proud of how the group had grown, strengthened and progressed over the past four years.
Speaking about the importance of the Fragile-to-fragile’ co-operation, and the New Deal, President Koroma maintained that “it is helpful to us because, although every fragile country is fragile in its own way, we all have recent successes and failures of immediate relevance to each other. New Deal itself helps us to identify and prioritise the major building blocks of our transition to resilience.”
The President called on the members ”to re-pledge their support to the principles of the New Deal, and re-double their efforts to make these principles a reality in Sierra Leone and in all G7+ countries.
The former Co-Chair Emilia Pires in her statement gave a background to the formation of the International Dialogue and G7+ started in Paris where the deal was signed.
And for the International Dialogue, they recognised the fact that about 1.4 billion people are left behind in the development programme of the Millienun Development Goal.
She said the MDG is about poverty reduction but for fragile states they have to do two things; firstly to end conflict, and secondly to build infrastructure and institution to get to the MDG.
The Minister of Finance Keifala Marrah in his introductory statement after the signing of the agreement and they met again in Accra, where the team accelerated and deepened the commitment to Paris declaration of Fragile State.
He also said that the team also met in Liberia to set out the road map “and now we have been greeted in Freetown for the fourth meeting. I believe that there is no better time to pose and reflect on what we have done.
By Betty Milton
Thursday June 19, 2014