President Ernest Bai Koroma last Friday received the African Peace Award in Durban, South Africa where he emphasized that the “worst is over.”
Receiving the award, President Koroma said, “today’s award ceremony is in recognition of the resilience, candour and dedicated commitment of the people of Sierra Leone to the attainment of lasting peace and democracy in our country”.
The President also conveyed “the sincere appreciation of the Government and People of Sierra Leone to the Government and People of South Africa who, at various stages of our crisis and to date, have stood steadfastly by us in both our search for enduring peace and our national recovery efforts”.
President Koroma further affirmed that “the recent signing of the Tripartite Cooperation Agreement involving the Governments of South Africa, Cuba and Sierra Leone designed to boost the heath care delivery in my country further strengthened the long and excellent bilateral relations between our sister Republics”.
The President also paid special tribute to “the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) for its foresight in conceiving and actualizing this laudable venture aimed at promoting peace, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in our continent”.
President Koroma affirmed that “as a nation, we needlessly toiled through 11-years of carnage, brutality and a dastardly devastation of social and economic infrastructure across the entire country” adding “but dare I say, the worst is over”.
He went on saying that he is convinced that with peace and stability everything else is possible, noting that “we made a conscious choice in aspiring for the highest goal PEACE, through reconciliation and peaceful co-existence as a people but made no room for impunity.
We embraced the two-pronged approach to healing the scars of war and rendering justice by instituting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL)”.
“It is no gainsaying that indeed, Sierra Leone has had a unique experience in its journey from conflict to a comprehensive peace process.
With the help of the international community and development partners, both bilateral and multilateral, we have been able to accomplish the reform of our security and justice sectors subsequent upon the successful but difficult conclusion of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme, resulting in the demobilization of over 70,000 men, women and children under arms.”
The President observed that these accolades, well-meaning and deserving as they may be are not an end in themselves “nor are they intended to make us complacent, but it is a beginning of a long walk to sustained economic growth to prosperity.”
He took leave of the august body with a renewed commitment of dedication and vigour “to extricate my people out of ignorance, poverty and political exclusion. And I look forward to pursuing this journey with you all as we have always done”.