11 December 2015

Sierra Leone: President Koroma Addresses Parliament Today

President Ernest Bai Koroma will today address Parliament at the fourth session of the Fourth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone. A guard of honour will be mounted by a detachment of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces at the Fore Court of Parliament building, Tower Hill, in line with parliamentary tradition.

President Koroma, who is serving his second and final term in office, is expected to talk on diverse issues including the post-Ebola recovery plan and the resilience of the nation in defeating Ebola.

The event was a somber one last year as Sierra Leone was recording one of the highest Ebola infection cases in sub-region, with dozens of deaths daily.

President Koroma said last year that in 2013 we did not have an Ebola outbreak, and that no one thought a deadly virus would strike our sub-region andcause so much tragedy, disrupt so many plans, and put at grave risk the verysurvival of our nation.

He promised the nation that his government would work on reviewing the national health system, developing a public health master plan, establish a decentralised Directorate for Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene, promote in-country post-graduate medical education, improve hospital management through redeployment of doctors from mainstream administration to their core functions.

President Koroma also informed the nation that he knew majority of our compatriots were dedicated to fighting Ebola, although there were some within and outside the country who sought corrupt capital out of the outbreak, thus warning that such persons would be brought to book, although we are yet to see that happen.

He further said: "As part of government's commitment to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) report, physical verification of a residual caseload of 1,618 Severely War Wounded Victims has been completed and government has approved the sum of Le6.138 billion to provide rehabilitation grants to the verified victims."

However, about two weeks ago a group of war wounded gathered few meters away from State House, by the National Electoral Commission offices, to protest that they were not being treated fairly and would like to have audience with the President.

The president also disclosed that Cabinet had approved the Child Welfare Policy as a framework for strengthening child protection systems, while the Alternative Care Policy, which seeks to remove children from the streets, had also been developed and approved by Cabinet.

But if the President were to go around the city now he would see a sad spectacle of child beggars and pregnant teenage girls.

President Koroma had also reminded women that, "Whilst I await the passing of the 30% Quota Bill by this Honourable House, my Government will continue to appoint more women to leadership roles in government agencies."

A year after the President made that pronouncement the Bill is yet to go through Parliament, although several Bills, including the Safe Abortion Act, have been passed recently.

Today, President Koroma is expected to tell the nation progress that has been made since last year, including ending the Ebola outbreak, as well as plans his government has to move the country forward, post-Ebola.

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