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Please be aware www.slip.ie is currently being updated hence lack of frequent posts.
Will be back soon!
|Sierra Leone News : Irish Ambassador bids farewell to President Koroma
By State House Communications Unit
Jul 29, 2016, 17:08
The outgoing Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Dr Sinead Walsh, has on Thursday July 28, 2016 paid a farewell courtesy call on President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at State House.
Dr Sinead Walsh has been in Sierra Leone since 2011 as head of the Irish Aid Programme until May 2014 when she took up a new post as Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone. The ambassador’s work focused on diplomatic representation, assisting Irish companies on trade, consular assistance to Irish citizens and management of the Irish Aid Programme and particularly in Sierra Leone on nutrition for children under five years old as well as women’s rights.
The president thanked Ambassador Walsh for her tremendous work and unique services she rendered during her stay in the country. He recounted the bilateral relationship and work between the two countries on important and critical issues; citing the 2012 multi-tier elections, the unprecedented Ebola outbreak and the support given to the girl child in Sierra Leone. President Koroma expressed conviction that the cordial relationship between the two countries over the years has helped to build a strategy in addressing issues. The Commander-in-Chief stated that the good work of the ambassador will always be remembered while wishing her the best in her future endeavours.
The Irish ambassador thanked President Koroma for his great leadership and the close relationship the two countries have enjoyed over the years. She noted the collaboration and strengthened relationship between the two countries on bilateral relations, governance and priority interventions during her stay in the country.
© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Following his look at the street level view of corruption in the country, Jamie Hitchen examines how corruption and politics are increasingly intertwined.
Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Sierra Leone 119 out of 168 countries. The country’s position has progressively worsened over the last four years. Also in 2015, 70% of citizens surveyed by Afrobarometer felt that corruption had increased from 2014, with only a third believing that they can make a difference in the fight against it.
Ernest Bai Koroma pledged to tackle corruption after his election as president in 2007. He replaced a Sierra Leone People’s Party government that was accused of being a “fortress of corruption” and which faced severe criticism of its record from international partners shortly before being voted from power. Koroma began promisingly with the creation of an Anti-Corruption Act in 2008 and public attacks on graft within government. But after the unexplained resignation in 2010 of Abdul Tejan-Cole, the widely respected, impartial head of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), progress stalled. Under the leadership of Joseph Kamara, increasingly a close ally of the president, the commission successfully prosecuted no high-profile individuals for corrupt activities, leading to accusations that it has been politicised. The decision to appoint Kamara to the position of Attorney General in a recent cabinet re-shuffle does not convey the message that the justice sector will take a tough or proactive stance on the issue.
The fading commitment to tackling corruption was highlighted during the Ebola outbreak. A real-time audit of government expenditure by the Auditor General’s office found that 30% of the money was disbursed without proper supporting documentation. Despite the report being a public document that was presented to parliament – meaning that the ACC could in theory have been expected to investigate its detailed findings – so far no individual has been reprimanded or asked to pay back ill-gotten gains. Procurement mismanagement and inflated contracts have featured prominently in every report by the Auditor General’s office since 2011, but continue to be features of day-to-day government business.
International donors like the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) have also sought to engage government on the subject. Following previous initiatives, in 2014 a “Pay No Bribe Campaign” was launched with the support of the president, who urged citizens to “Request no bribe! Pay no bribe!” DfID decided not to channel funds for the Ebola response through government ministries, indicating concern about accountability and transparency. However, DfID’s own showing on that score has been far from perfect. Sierra Leoneans – the beneficiaries – have a right to know why, for example, a treatment centre at Kerry Town was constructed (and subsequently dismantled) at a cost of £85 million; or why only 2% of all funds donated by external agencies including DfID went to local doctors, nurses and burial teams.
In a recent interview with The Economist, the president’s spokesperson, Abdulai Bayraytay, claimed that the installation of two sets of traffic lights in Freetown would help reduce corruption as “traffic police are perceived as being very corrupt”. The comment appears symptomatic of the government’s unwillingness to address the root causes of the corruption “problem”. Police reforms and the punishment of transgressors, rather than a public admission that the government knows what goes on but does nothing, would have been more encouraging to Sierra Leoneans. Of course, promoting this type of reform for government departments is not in the interest of ministers whose lifestyles are far more opulent than their monthly salaries of about US$3,000 could possibly support.
Looking for capital
The government is facing an acute cash shortage. The price of iron ore, the main driver of double digit GDP growth in the years preceding Ebola, remains low; most aid is not channelled through government departments; and internally generated revenues are slight. The Ministry of Defence received only a quarter of its budgetary allocation for the first six months of 2016, a constraint replicated to varying degrees across all ministries.
To the government, Chinese investment looks like an appealing solution. But partially state-owned companies, such as the China Railway Group, are mainly interested in the construction of toll roads and a new airport. These are necessary in the long-term, but far from vital for a country that has serious problems with the provision of water and electricity, prevailing food insecurity and a health sector described by the Auditor General as a “panoply of dysfunction”. Ulterior motives are widely suspected.
If it goes ahead – and opposition has already been expressed by key international donors and partners like the IMF – moving the airport from its current location at Lungi to a new site 38 miles east of Freetown, at Mamamah, is expected to cost at least US$300 million. The Chinese government, it is alleged, have their eye on the Lungi site for a military base; for President Koroma, it would be a way of getting much-needed cash into the system and facilitating a legacy project. With an election just 18 months away, the All People’s Congress (APC) patronage machine is already grinding through the gears.
Sierra Leone’s 1991 Constitution limits the president to two terms. It appears unlikely that Koroma will attempt – or find himself able – to change the constitution despite increasingly vocal backing from APC supporters and even those within the party to secure “more time”. The president is aware of the potential consequences for relations with leading international donors and the reputational impact. Legally, he would only be able to extend his term in office if the country were to remain in a state of emergency; but this measure, announced in late July 2014 to contain the Ebola outbreak, is due to be lifted in August 2016.
Perhaps Koroma’s cabinet reshuffle in March 2016, widely interpreted as a political manoeuvre, provides the clearest indicator of what will happen to the presidency. Those who were suspected of contemplating a leadership challenge ahead of the 2018 election were sacked and replaced by individuals with limited experience and in some cases few qualifications other than demonstrable loyalty to the APC. Several of the new ministers may not be well-equipped to provide the strategic, long-term thinking that is required as the country rebuilds post-Ebola, but they will ensure that Koroma’s rumoured successor, Joseph Kamara, has the full backing of the party. The APCs structure and constitution promotes a strong, top-down chain of command. Once a decision has been made by the party’s inner circle the casting of votes to endorse this choice is purely academic.
A popular refrain holds that Koroma is “doing OK” but is let down by his ministers. However, Sierra Leonean journalist Umaru Fofana points out that ultimately “[the president] appoints the cabinet and the buck stops with him”. For Fofana, “the tragedy is that Sierra Leonean politicians, on all sides, are thinking in the 1960s and 1970s. They are trying to undermine democratic principles and values – rather than focusing their energy toward building them. To them, electoral politics, instead of development, is to the fore in whatever they do; everything else has to fall in line behind.”
Please check the site at:
The Sierra Leone –Ireland Partnership Celebrates
Sierra Leone @ 52
SLIP invites you to mark Sierra Leone’s independence
Friday April 26th 2013 in Dublin city centre
Irish Aid Volunteering Centre, 27-31 Upper O’Connell Street, D.1
6.30– 7.00 AGM
7.00– 8.00 Panel Discussion: ‘Building a better Sierra Leone’
Sr. Louis Marie O’Connor, Sisters of Joseph of Cluny
Ms. Alice Rekab, Artist – working on collaborative creative projects in
Sierra Leone with the group Stars Combine, and who recently held
an exhibition in Dublin.
a Social Gathering and Celebration:
The Grand Central Bar, 10-11 O’Connell Street,
5 mins walk from Irish Aid Centre
Time: 8 pm till late- food and music provided
Contribution at the door: Eu 15
Speaking Points for the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade,Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D at Reception to mark Sierra Leone’s Fiftieth Anniversary of Independence
Wynn’s Hotel, Abbey Street, Dublin 1: Friday, 20 May 2011.
Ambassador Turay, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is an honour for me to be here this evening to share in this celebration to mark Sierra Leone’s 50 years of independence. Ireland is also a relatively young state and we understand the significance of this milestone for Sierra Leone. While occasions like this are a time to celebrate they also provide the opportunity to reflect on progress made and to look ahead to what can be achieved in the future.
It is a relatively short time since the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone in 2002, yet tangible progress has been made in consolidating peace and security, revitalising the economy and rehabilitating infrastructure and basic services. The Government of Sierra Leone, through its Poverty Reduction Strategy the ‘Agenda for Change’, is working towards developing growth in areas such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and social services.
Consolidating the peace in Sierra Leone has long been a priority of the Sierra Leone administration and it is one which has Ireland’s strong support. Building on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and working in close collaboration with the Peace Building Commission, Sierra Leone has made progress in overcoming the legacy of conflict. As we have seen in our own country, this process takes time and careful nurturing and we urge Sierra Leone to persist with this goal. The fruits will be well worth the labours.
Building good governance is central to the work of Ireland’s aid programme. Without good governance, long-term sustainable development is not possible. I welcome the progress that has been made by the Sierra Leonean Government around governance issues particularly their efforts to tackle the root causes of corruption through putting in place tough anti-corruption legislation as well as the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
We have witnessed important indicators of progress in recent years. A significant achievement in the health sector has been the introduction last year of the Free Health Care Initiative for pregnant women, new mothers and young children under the age of five.
Sierra Leone’s free health-care plan has substantially increased services for mothers, and particularly for children. Initial indications suggest that this increased access to treatment has led to a significant reduction in child deaths from malaria. But the story is far from over and there is still much more to do to transform the country’s health system and reduce overall mortality rates particularly in children.
We are very aware of the significant challenges still facing Sierra Leone. I can assure you that Ireland is a committed partner. Ties between our two countries date back to the arrival of Irish missionaries in Sierra Leone over one hundred years ago. I value greatly the strong links developed over those years through the work of our missionaries and civil society organisations with the people of Sierra Leone.
As you know, Ireland established its development cooperation programme in Sierra Leone in 2005. Since then, we have increased the size and level of our representation in Freetown. This has allowed us to deepen our engagement with Sierra Leone and is a reflection of the Government’s interest in and commitment to supporting the people of Sierra Leone. In this period, Ireland has provided €54.7 million in funding support to Sierra Leone.
This year Ireland has put in place a new two year country strategy for Sierra Leone which is focused on addressing the challenges around nutrition and food security. The strategy is in line with and supportive of the Agenda for Change. Ireland is working through partners in both the health and agriculture sectors.
In the area of food security, Ireland has been a leading advocate in recent years for a renewed global effort in the fight against hunger. The eradication of hunger is a cornerstone of Ireland’s aid programme. Solving hunger is inextricably linked to progress in many other areas such as improving school enrolment rates and reducing maternal and child mortality. Unless we tackle and succeed in the fight against hunger, we will not achieve progress on the seven other Millennium Development Goals.
In Sierra Leone, programmes which Ireland is supporting in this area include a small holder commercialisation programme to promote crop intensification and diversification; school feeding programmes, community management of acute malnutrition and the refurbishment of health infrastructure.
Ireland is also working jointly with the United States Government in Freetown to ensure a greater focus on nutrition, particularly during the crucial first 1000 days of life and to maximise the impact of the work of organisations working in the sector.
The support provided through Ireland’s country programme is complemented by the programmes of a number of non-governmental organisations, including Irish NGOs, which are active in Sierra Leone. These include Concern, Christian Aid, GOAL, Trócaire, World Vision and Sightsavers International.
I would also like to acknowledge here this evening the considerable work done by the Sierra Leone –Ireland Partnership over the years in fostering relations between both our countries. I would especially like to thank Joe Manning, our Honorary Consul of Sierra Leone, who has done tremendous work in promoting Sierra Leone’s interests in Ireland. It is also in Ireland’s interest as a trading nation that we work with our developing country partners so that they can grow, prosper and evolve as trading partners, continuing to pursue a path of self-reliance.
I would like to thank the Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership Committee for inviting me to this evening’s celebration and for their work in organising the programme of events. It is a great privilege for me to be here this evening and I wish the people of Sierra Leone peace and prosperity over the next 50 years!