ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY
DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE
ON THE OCCASION OF THE FORMAL LAUNCH
OF THE PRESIDENTIAL MEETING
OF THE FORUM OF DIPLOMATIC AND FOREIGN RELATIONS,
17TH JANUARY 2014
Mr. Foreign Minister
Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners accredited to the Republic of Sierra Leone
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Community
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honored to host the Presidential segment of the Forum of Diplomatic and Consular Relations. In welcoming you, let me also, on behalf of the people and government of Sierra Leone, and in my own name, extend to you and, through you, wishes of happiness and prosperity for the friendly peoples and governments of the nations you represent.
This forum is organized at a time of transformation: a transformation of our nation’s key development program from the Agenda For Change, to the Agenda for Prosperity; a transformation of our economy from a heavy reliance on aid to one with colossal foreign Direct Investment and amongst the fastest growing in the world; and the transformation of our governance system to one that is open, transparent, accountable and supportive of international peace, security and prosperity.
We still face challenges in all these transformations, but we are dedicated to meeting them head-on. And we call on all of you present here today to support us sustain the alliances we have with your countries for overcoming these challenges; we call on you to support us sustain the partnerships for international peace and security; and we ask that we support each other to strengthen the bonds for promoting inclusive economic growth, the bonds for improving capacities for economic diplomacy, for transformative relationships and for cooperation in areas ranging from the reform of the United Nations, to fight piracy in the gulf of Guinea, combating trafficking in persons, and building peace in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Somalia, and Syria.
Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are strengthening the capacity of our foreign ministry and missions for effective delivery of the objectives of our foreign policy. We ask for your support towards the achievement of these objectives; we ask that you continue to be ambassadors of goodwill for a nation that is transforming itself; we call on you to share the good news that this country of six million inhabitants is on the rise again, rebuilding itself with support of friends like you, a country that is now open for investment, a friendly country, with a people that are amongst the most tolerant and hospitable in the world.
We are expanding our diplomatic outreach to spread the news and build upon networks of goodwill for the transformation. That is why we are opening new embassies and signing memorandums of cooperation with several countries all over the world.
Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as Chairman of the African Union Committee of Ten on the Reform of the United Nations, I will continue to advance the African Common Position as encapsulated in the Ezulwini Accords.
Together with other member-nations, we are strengthening the capacity of the Mano River Union. We are heartened by the return of peace and democracy to all member countries of the Union, and we shall continue to support initiatives for the sustenance and growth of democratic order, peace and security in the sub region.
We will continue to adhere to ECOWAS protocols for peace, democracy and stability, and we will sustain our support for the building of the ECOWAS logistical depot in Sierra Leone.
My Government will continue to contribute troops and support peacekeeping operations in the Sudan and Somalia and we seek capacity building and other support in these laudable ventures for international peace and security.
We are dismayed at the turn of events in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. We however support the appointment of an acting President in the Central African Republic, and the South Sudanese peace talks hosted by the Republic of Ethiopia.
We condemn acts of terrorism and terrorist threats everywhere in the world.
People of all ethnicity and religions must be able to live in peace and security everywhere in the world.
We welcome the emerging detente between Iran and world powers in relation to nuclear power and lifting of economic sanctions on the Iranian people. We urge sustained international engagement for a just and peaceful resolution of the matter.
We are seized of developments in the ICC, and we are supportive of the efforts to ensure judicial accountability in ways that are respectful of Africa’s concerns for the abilities of its statesmen and women to steer the countries of the continent towards greater security, reconciliation, peace and development.
We shall remain committed to the promotion of human rights. Early this week, I reiterated our commitment to a moratorium on capital punishment. We have charged our Constitution Review Committee to come up with constitutional proposals that reflect best international practices in relation to issues that are paramount to the growth of our democracy.
We will continue to support the candidacy of friendly countries and their citizens for pivotal international responsibilities, but we will also insist on the principle of reciprocity in this area.
As we are now in the penultimate year of the MDGs, we are seized of the enormous challenges faced in efforts at achieving them. The shape of post 2015 initiatives must be informed by these experiences. We seek more inclusive global governance structures, we aspire to partnerships that are cognizance of the need for redressing unjust global, regional and local imbalances, and more importantly we must all insist on concrete actions dedicated to eradicating poverty, to averting environmental catastrophe, and redressing injustice.
We applaud the United Nations for its pivotal role in our return to peace and democracy, and we also applaud organizations and countries that partnered with us to establish the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The closing of the Special Court and its replacement by a Residual Court last year, and the folding up of UNIPSIL are testaments of a mission accomplished. With the support of our people and friendly countries, those most responsible for the atrocities in our land have been brought to book, a democracy has been midwifed, a country is on the rise gain, but we also seek continued cooperation in meeting some of the remaining challenges.
I am particularly encouraged by the efforts of many of you present here today are making to boost the human and institutional capacity of my country’s Foreign Ministry and the wider public service through enhanced technical cooperation, training, knowledge exchange programmes. We applaud you for your contributions, we salute you for your concerns, and we appreciate your dedication to the promotion of our mutual interests.
On our part, we will continue to build and sustain partnerships for international security and stability, and we will continue to take bold steps to deepen the core values of our socio-economic and political transformation – accountability, transparency and open government partnership. This is the right way to go in order to anchor on-going private sector led growth, infrastructure development and investment in our people.
In concluding, Excellencies and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me also reassure you of my personal commitment and dedication to advancing the objectives of this Forum. It is now my honor to formally launch this Presidential segment of the Forum of Diplomatic and Consular Relations as an annual process flowing from your quarterly interactions.
I thank you all.