By State House Communications Unit
Freetown: Their Excellencies, the Ambassadors designate of La Cote D’Ivoire and the Czech Republic presented their Letters of Credence to President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at the Credentials Hall, State House, Freetown on Friday 22nd June.
In welcoming the Ambassador Designate of La Cote d’Ivoire, Mr. Kapieletien Soro, President Koroma said he could not receive an Ivorian Ambassador without thinking of his personal involvement with his colleague leaders of ECOWAS and the African Union in finding a durable and lasting solution to that country’s crisis. “We are happy that the worse is over, and the elephant is once again on its feet, with the majesty and integrity of its republican institutions,” he said.
The President added that the inauguration of President Quattara and the holding of legislative elections quite recently show that the democratic renewal of La Cote D’Ivoire was not just well on course, but that the entire MRU and ECOWAS states were in an inexorable drive of democratic transformation. While noting that Sierra Leone will be organizing national elections in November, he reaffirmed government’s commitment to making those elections meet the democratic aspirations of not only the people of Sierra Leone, but also the entire sub-region.
President Ernest Bai Koroma expressed unflinching support for the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and an Independent Investigation into the crisis to enhance national reconciliation, and ensure that what happened never happened again. He also applauded the efforts of President Quattara in calling on Ivoirians in the sub-region to return home and join the ongoing reconstruction and development exercise through the Presidential Emergency Program.
The Chief Executive encouraged the two countries to exploit their abundant human and natural resources through coordination to yield greater returns for the peoples of both Sierra Leone and La Cote-D’Ivoire. He therefore expressed support for the establishment of a Joint Commission Cooperation between the two countries to facilitate this, and also restated full commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation within ECOWAS and the MRU.
President Koroma however maintained that ongoing political instability in Mali and Guinea Bissau pose serious security threats to the sub-region, saying Sierra Leone is firmly behind the initiatives of ECOWAS to restore peace, security and democratic governance to the two countries.
Presenting his Letters of Credence, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Kapieletien Soro expressed on behalf of President Alassane Quattara, the government and people of La Cote D’Ivoire profound thanks and appreciation to President Koroma for his constant support and personal involvement in resolving the post electoral crisis experienced by his country in 2011.
Ambassador Soro also profusely thanked His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma for his role within ECOWAS and the AU in helping to resolve the conflict in Cote D’Ivoire. He also expressed his government’s commitment to continued bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
As the Ivoirian Ambassador was preparing to take his leave of President Koroma, the strains of Czech Republic’s national anthem “Where is my home?” reverberated in the air across the State Avenue neighbourhood in preparation for the arrival of the Czech Republic’s new envoy Miloslav Machalek, the second ambassador to present his credentials to His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday 22nd June.
President Koroma noted that Sierra Leone was strengthened in its transformation efforts by the fact that countries in Eastern and Central Europe, including the Czech Republic, blazed similar trail by building on the aspirations of their people for freedom, truth and prosperity to transform their nations into democratic and peace loving republics.
“This year we celebrated our Golden Jubilee plus one, and we have renewed our commitment to continue to consolidate our democracy, secure our people and transform our society and economy,” President Koroma said, and went on to note that, “Our aspirations rest on solid foundation, our economy is growing at about the fastest rate in the world; we are reconstructing roads in every part of the country; our free health care for pregnant women, young mothers and children under five are having a very positive impact on our health indicators.”
He acknowledged the deep interest manifested by the Czech Ambassador in the role Sierra Leone was playing in peacekeeping missions and regional mediation efforts, while adding that Sierra Leone had greatly benefited from peacekeeping missions in the past. “We owe our peace and democracy to the support we received from the world to end our violent conflict and build democratic and progressive institutions. It is the belief of the Government and People of Sierra Leone that our nation must assert its gratitude to the world by supporting peace and security in embattled regions. Peacekeeping, tolerance and human rights are integral to the development of Sierra Leone,” he reiterated.