State House, Freetown, Tuesday 28 February 2023 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio today received the ‘Flag for Peace’ from Professor Luis G. Franceschi, the Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General for Governance and Peace Directorate.
Commonwealth member states are being invited to support the Commonwealth of Nations Flag for Peace initiative across the Commonwealth ahead of Commonwealth Day, Monday 13th March 2023, the first to be presided over by His Majesty King Charles III as King and Head of the Commonwealth.
President Bio described the Commonwealth as a traditional partner to Sierra Leone in development and several areas of governance, as well as the provision of scholarships and other technical assistance to the government.
“We do appreciate the relationship with the Commonwealth and we will always do everything to support it. On behalf of Sierra Leone, I want to welcome the team. assured.
“We are approaching a very critical point in our nation, which is the election. As always, it is a tense moment. I don’t like it like that, but of course, some people are more anxious for moments like these and I don’t know why. As a politician with a message, I have done my best, even before the elections. I planned very well for my politics, and I have been telling voters and the entire country that election day must be a normal day.
“Go cast your ballot and embark on your normal activities. The electoral system has been conducting successful elections since it was established. They have participated in major elections around the continent, including in Nigeria, to add to their expertise,” he stated.
The President also noted that there would be both local and international partners to observe the elections, and after which, those observation teams would put out statements with recommendations, adding that his was the only government to have officially accepted and acted upon most of those documents.
“We have freed up the political space in terms of the seditious libel law, which has been in our books for over 60 years. We have also removed the death penalty, which has been used to cow down opposition politicians. So, basically, we inherited a representative government, which I designed, but we are taking it to the next level, which is a liberal democracy in which freedoms coexist with a just representative government.
“We have invested so much in democracy, and it is one of our greatest achievements. I am not going to tarnish that. Instead, I am going to relish the fact that many people refer to me as the father of modern democracy. When it came to peace, I was here ready to make a sacrifice just to bring peace and we brought democracy and peace. What we are fighting for is economic emancipation,” he emphasised.
Professor Franceschi said, “I am very pleased and honoured to be here with my team and thank you very much for the reception in Sierra Leone. You have treated us very well, and it is beautiful to be back in Sierra Leone.
“We bring to you the Flag for Peace. This is the year of peace. As you may be aware, since you and your colleague heads of state and government in Rwanda declared peace to be a common welfare of all in 2022, we are pleased to present to you, on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, this Flag for Peace. This will be raised on March 13, Commonwealth Day, either at Parliament or any specific location in the country.
“I also bring you congratulatory messages from the Secretariat for the recently accorded leadership award from the African Leadership Magazine. That is an amazing achievement. I can see the changes since we last visited Sierra Leone two years ago. There are great changes and we want to assure you and wish you all the best on your country’s bid for the Security Council.”
The Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General for Governance and Peace Directorate was accompanied by Dr. Michelle Scobie, Head of Commonwealth Good Offices, and Abubakar Abdullahi, Peace and Development Officer in the Good Offices, Governance, and Peace Directorate.
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