Sierra Leone’s eleven year madness made the United Nations intervene with a peace keeping mission. Now that the civil war has ended the mission will massively scale down and transform in to an “integrated peace building” entity. The acting Executive Representative of the UN Secretary General (ERSG) Mr Michael Schulenburg during a breakfast session with media practitioners at the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), Mammy Yoko headquarters disclosed that by the end of September this year the mission will transform to a “United Nations Integrated Peace Building Office.” He stated, “the role of the UN is changing,” noting that the UN was going to capacitate local institutions to remain technically engage “[Sierra Leone] is not a UN country,” lamented the ERSG, pointing out that Sierra Leoneans should take their own destiny in their hand by ensuring that the hard won peace is maintained. Mr Schulenburg commended Sierra Leone for maintaining a high standard of democratic practice and encouraged Sierra Leoneans to keep such a good practice. Among several issues discussed, Mr Schulenburg spoke about the criteria used by the UN to assess the credibility of the electoral process which was one of the points highlighted in the voting pattern “if there is a major change [in voting pattern it must be] explainable.” The Head of Department Mass Communication, Fourah Bay College (FBC) who doubles as Independent Media Commissioner’s Chairperson, Mrs Bernadette Cole explained that the IMC has appointed media monitors all over the country, adding that “they are individuals of high integrity”. She commended the UN for the role played in Sierra Leone in attaining and consolidating peace. The President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ), Philip Neville noted that the UN has helped journalists attain the recognition that they deserve and “we are trying to maintain it” he said.
By Ophaniel Gooding