Sierra Leone: US, Sierra Leone Envoys Champion 'Incredibly Productive' Bilateral Ties

2 February 2024

Sierra Leone's Ambassador and the U.S Ambassador to the United Nations spotlight meaningful meetings and an enduring partnership following during diplomatic visit.

In a briefing on Wednesday, 31 January, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, shared the positive outcomes of her visit to Sierra Leone. Describing the trip as "incredibly productive" and "meaningful," she highlighted significant meetings, including her meeting with President Julius Bio.

During their meeting on 25 January, Ms Thomas-Greenfield and Mr Bio discussed shared priorities for the UN Security Council, with a focus on addressing conflict in Sudan and the situation in Niger. They also delved into the crucial topic of UN Security Council reform and Sierra Leone's commitment to upholding the National Unity Agreement.

In a notable comment, on Thursday, Sierra Leone's Ambassador to the United States, Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai, spoke to PREMIUM TIMES and emphasised the enduring strength of the US-Sierra Leone relationship, citing the United States as a vital development partner that contributed significantly to Sierra Leone's progress, even during the challenges posed by COVID-19.

"I was the one that facilitated that meeting with my president," said Mr Wai, adding, "Because no matter what the situation is, diplomacy calls for people to continue talking and engaging with each other. So, despite whatever may have happened, as a result of the election, which does not mean that the relationship is gone down or there is no relation."

"We are working together on separate initiatives. And that process will continue. And that's the commitment that I know my president has towards the United States," he said. According to the ambassador, he said it expresses Sierra Leone's appreciation for the historical U.S.-Sierra Leone relationship and continued collaboration, especially during challenging times, reflecting what he described as Sierra Leone's commitment to diplomacy and sustaining alliances.

On key outcomes of her trip last week to Sierra Leone, Ms Thomas-Greenfield welcomed Sierra Leone's return to the UN Security Council, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in addressing regional challenges.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield highlighted democracy as a recurring theme in her discussions with West African leaders, including Presidents Bio, Embalo of Guinea Bissau, and Akufo-Addo of Ghana. This emphasis on democracy led to a significant announcement during her visit - the United States committed $1.5 million to support Sierra Leone's electoral reform processes.

The funding aims to provide technical and legal assistance, strengthening Sierra Leone's democratic processes and fostering civilian engagement. Ms Thomas-Greenfield underscored the importance of raising awareness and ownership among everyday citizens.

Peace and security emerged as another pivotal theme during the diplomatic engagements. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield discussed these issues with various heads of state, including President Bio. The focus on security aligns with broader efforts to empower AU missions in addressing Africa's growing security challenges.

The Sierra Leone Peace Museum featured prominently in the visit, honoring the victims of the country's decade-long conflict, and promoting lasting peace. Ms Thomas-Greenfield expressed appreciation for the efforts to ensure that the historical context is not forgotten.

Addressing Democracy in Sierra Leone

During the briefing, Ms Thomas-Greenfield addressed questions about the state of democracy in Sierra Leone, acknowledging that the democratic process is not linear but involves progress and setbacks. She condemned the attempted coup in Sierra Leone, expressing the US's commitment to working with the government to establish a path forward. The ambassador expressed support for President Bio's call for national unity and emphasized continued US assistance, including the recent $1.5 million contribution to support the electoral reform process.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield's visit to Sierra Leone has not only reinforced diplomatic ties but also displayed the United States' commitment to democracy, development, and peace in the region.

What both US and Sierra Leone envoys attempted to convey this week, as they touted the productive partnerships between the two countries--in particular at the UN Security Council-- is that the two countries aim to be perceived as committed, cooperating, and reliable partners, bilaterally, and on the international stage.

Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise in US foreign policy, and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe

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