''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 6

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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I am pleased to give this account of the Security Council visit to Sierra Leone on 23rd May on behalf of ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom and myself.South Africa's UN Security Council Ambassador Baso Sangqu delivers his report on the May 23rd visit to Freetown

The aim of the Council's visit in Sierra Leone was to encourage continued efforts to consolidate peace and national reconciliation.

During their visit the Council met President Koroma and several of his ministers, representatives from all ten registered political parties and the national election commission.

The Council also met members of civil society including women's groups so that the Council would hear from the people of Sierra Leone about the remarkable journey that their country has made since the civil war and which will continue with the forthcoming elections.

I would like to thank the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr Jens Toyberg-Frandzen and the staff of the United Nations Integrated Peace Building Office, UNIPSIL, for welcoming the Council and supporting our visit, particularly given how recently Mr Toyberg-Frandzen himself arrived in Freetown.

We greatly appreciate the support that UNIPSIL, working with the rest of the UN family is providing to peace building in Sierra Leone. Truly this was one UN in action.

As you might expect Mr President, the forthcoming elections featured prominently during the Council's visit. We received a clear and welcome commitment from President Koroma to a free, fair and transparent process.

Our discussions with all political parties and the national electoral commission reassured us that good progress was being made in preparing for November's poll.

Whilst we heard that the political environment in the country continues to be determined by intense rivalry and mistrust between the two major political parties, the Council was encouraged by the signature by all the political parties of a declaration agreeing to control the elections fairly and not to resort to violence.

In our meetings with the military and other representatives from the security sector, we are encouraged by the commitment that we heard to the army and police neutrality.

The military and police training programme provided by the United Nations and bilateral donors over the past ten years has clearly helped to develop a culture of policing based on protecting the security and human rights of all citizens of Sierra Leone. This work needs to continue.

On the issue of the purchase of weapons for the use of the Sierra Leone police, President Koroma reassured us that these weapons were transferred to the armed forces of Sierra Leone in the presence of international observers. A further mark of the progress that the Council observed was the pride that the Sierra Leone government and the military conveyed to us about the government and the military conveyed to us about the forthcoming deployment of their armed forces as peace keepers to the AU mission in Somalia, AMISOM.

At our lunch with civil society, we met representatives of womens' groups who shared the ideas about peace building and reconciliation including on the question of reparations for war victims.

All speakers stressed the role that women can play as an early warning system for potential conflict and spoke in favour of greater representation of women in Parliament.

In closing Mr President, it is worth reflecting on how far we have come.

The progress that Sierra Leone has made since the civil war ended ten years ago is remarkable.

Of course huge problems remain including high youth unemployment, infrastructural dilapidation and lack of institutional capacity - but there are ground for optimism that Sierra Leone is on the path to building a lasting peace.

The Security Council will continue to play its role in this journey.


Press Statement


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