Sent to CEN by Cocorioko
The Minister of Information and Communications, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo , has called on all Sierra Leoneans to move away from the Michael Schulenburg issue and concentrate on the socio-economic and political development of the country as being done by the All People's Congress ( APC ) Government under the inspiring leadership of President Ernest Koroma .The Minister, who is the official Spokesman of the government, granted an exclusive interview to COCORIOKO INTERNATIONAL this morning to respond to the brouhaha over an alleged United Nations ( UN ) document leaked to the Sierra Leone media by unknown persons.
The alleged leaked UN letter was addressed to the UN Protocol and Liasion Office , having the signature of the Head of Chancery of the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN Mrs. Margaret Jah-Matturi , and it was requesting accreditation for the Chairman of the United Democratic Movement ( UDM ) , Mr. Mohamed Bangura , to enter the UN and listen to President Ernest Koroma address the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly last September.
Mr. Kargbo said the letter was not strange and that the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations has always facilitated the procurement of passes from the UN for Sierra Leoneans who wished to go and listen to their Presidents address the UN General Assembly and it was in the same spirit that the Mission helped the Chairman of the Unied Democratic Movement ( UDM), Mr. Mohamed Bangura, to enter the UN last September to listen to President Ernest Koroma address the UN General Assembly. The Minister said that any insinuation ascribed to the action was wrong and unjustified.
The Minister said that the UDM Leader was not the only opposition political figure the Sierra Leone Mission helped to enter the UN to listen to President Koroma address the UN last year. One of the Sierra Leone People's Party ( SLPP ) Presidential aspirants, Major Ishmael Songu Koroma , was also assisted by the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to gain accreditation to enter the UN to listen to President Koroma deliver his statement to the General Assembly. Two former Ambassadors in the former SLPP Government–Messrs James Jonah and Sylvester Rowe –were also helped by the Mission to achieve the same purpose. "The Mission does not deny such assistance to any Sierra Leonean, whatever his/ her political affiliation. It is not an unusual thing at all for the Sierra Leone Mission to secure accreditation for Sierra Leoneans who want to enter the UN to listen to their President address the UN General Assembly", Mr. Kargbo continued .
Minister Kargbo pointed out that , as a matter of fact, during the reign of the Sierra Leone People's Party ( SLPP ), he was listed as part of the Presidential delegation –Though he was then only the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists ( SLAJ ) — just so he could enter the UN to listen to Ex-President Ahmad Tejan-Kabbah address the General Assembly. "I was given accreditation as part of the President's delegation, though I was not and the purpose was to enable me to listen to President Kabbah . I do not see anything strange for our Mission to give accreditation to Sierra Leoneans who want to enter the UN to listen to their President " , he asserted. With reference to the designation of Mr. Bangura as Foreign Ministry Adviser in the letter requesting accreditation for him , the Minister said it must have been an administrative error and the Government had nothing to do with that because it does not dictate the titles designated people for whom the Mission requests accreditatation.
The Minister called on Sierra Leoneans to move from these issues and concentrate on the socio-economic and political development of the country.
Hon. Kargbo said that Mr. Bangura's status is very clear to Sierra Leoneans. "The Political Parties Registration Commission ( PPRC ) has Mr. Bangura down as Chairman of the UDM . His utterances have nothing to do with the ruling APC. His actions and decisions have nothing to do with the ruling APC. Sierra Leone is a free country enjoying multi-party democracy and freedom of expression .We have no power to stop the Leader of another party from saying or doing what he wants. "
The Minister continued : "On Mr. Schulenburg , we want to make it very clear. President Koroma and the APC Government have nothing against him. Even if he violated some diplomatic rules, we recognize the role he played in the promotion of the governance sector of the country. Also, his interventions in the effort to bring peace and concord within the political class are highly appreciated by government. He has promoted various UN organizations and contributed towards the development of the media and the creation of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation ( SLBC ) for which we are most appreciative. We think this matter should be brought to an end and we must move ahead to ensure the success of Mr.Schulenburg and so the UN can continue to play a positive role in the political development of Sierra Leone."
The Minister said that he was certain that Mr.Schulenburg himself was not happy with the documents being leaked from the UN by unscrupulous persons and would want to dissociate himself from an effort that would bring a discord between the Sierra Leonean people and the UN. He condemned the action of the unscrupulous persons leaking UN documents to the Sierra Leone media and said that the Government of Sierra Leone will continue to work with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in promoting peace and political tolerance in Sierra Leone