President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and the European Union today Monday 29 May held discussions on Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement at State House in Freetown.
Article 8 of the said agreement is an integrated framework based on partnership and promoting cooperation, trade and political dialogue.
Addressing the European Union delegation, President Koroma said the meeting explains and provides a clearer understanding of the agreement and practices. Moving forward, the president pointed out the importance of managing the country’s economy and making sure that government meets the 2018 electoral calendar. He declared the completion of the national voter registration exercise, delimitation of constituencies and districts and work in progress on the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources achieving export facilities to the EU Market, national Non-Governmental Organizations Policy, Female Genital Mutilation Policy, review on the National strategy on teenage pregnancy, land legislation that will attract both local and international investment, establishment of technical school for skills empowerment, review of the criminal libel law as well as working on an infrastructure on electoral security.
On the review of the Criminal Seditious Libel Law, President Koroma underscored the significance of continued engagement with relevant stakeholders and going through the process for the review of the said legislation. He noted that there was no plan to shutdown social media but clearly stated that government will respond appropriately to any threat that undermines the peace and security of the state. “We will take appropriate actions as a responsible government,” he said. He encouraged all to work together to close the elections funding gap of Twenty Million Dollars as well as support the ongoing national civil registration exercise.
The Head of the EU delegation in Sierra Leone, Mr Peter Versteeg expressed delight over the frank exchange of issues of national interest and reiterates EU’s support to the country. He welcomed the request of government to fill in an observer mission for the 2018 elections and thanked the Government of Sierra Leone for hosting the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Conference. He also encouraged Sierra Leone to participate in the Fourth “Our Ocean” Conference slated for 5th and 6th October 2017 in Malta and the next EU/Africa Summit scheduled to take place in Cote D’voire in November 2017. The British High Commissioner, Mr Guy Warrington and other speakers shared common sentiments on holding credible and peaceful elections in 2018, district boundaries delimitation, raising money to close the funding gap, improving the investment climate of the country, human rights and civil society among others.