27 February 2017

West Africa: Ibn Chambas Pays Courtesy Call On President Koroma

Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas and team on Friday February 24, 2017, paid a courtesy call on President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma at State House in Freetown.

Dr Chambers was in the country on a five-day visit to continue consultations on preparations for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on March 7, 2018.

Added to the aforementioned assignment, the UN special representative was also in the country upon invitation to address the just concluded ACP-EU meeting on security situation in Africa where he reflected on the Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria, the security situation in Sudan, Libya and Guinea Bissau. He conveyed a message to President Koroma from New York about UN Security Council's concern over the situation in Guinea Bissau and its desire to see the involvement of President Koroma through the African Union (AU) in facilitating and implementing the previous agreement reached by the AU in Guinea.

In curbing some of these security challenges especially in Africa, Dr Chambas suggested aggressive military approach by AU and ECOWAS as was done in the case of Nigeria's Boko Haram. The Special representative also spoke of consolidation of democracy in Africa to avoid what he called pre and post elections violence in the continent. He commended President Koroma for conducting elections in 2012 that were violent free and also praised him for announcing the date for the 2018 general elections which he termed as an epitome of good leadership.

He said it would be prudent that steps be taken to conclude discussions on constitutional reform, confirm a chronogram for the elections and explore means for adequate funding in order that the election process stays on track and within constitutional deadline.

President Koroma welcomed the UN Special Representative, urging that in addressing the miasma of security issues highlighted, full force international effort is needed.

He emphasized that the UN needs to join hands with ECOWAS and the AU to strengthen intelligence gathering and providing full support for aggressive approach to the alarming security situation in Africa.

Regarding the situation in Guinea Bissau, the president informed Dr Chambas that he has always been in touch with President Alpha Conde of Guinea. He also expressed the need to equally focus on the Malian and Libyan crisis through joint efforts.

With respect to the date for the 2018 general elections, President Koroma categorically stated that the pronouncement was made out of careful consultation with stakeholders and that government is committed to the scheduled date with readiness to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.

He however urged the international community to show some level of commitment so that there will be no delay in all of the processes. He said government would need international support in terms of bridging funding gaps owing to difficulties the country was faced with in 2014 - the issue of Ebola and the collapse in iron ore prices.

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