State House, Freetown, Wednesday 10 January 2024 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has received and welcomed the new United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Madam Seraphine Wakana, who was appointed by Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, in November 2023.
The envoy, who was accompanied by the Senior Human Rights Advisor, Uchenna Emelonye, Peace & Development Advisor, Simonetta Rossi and Communication and Advocacy Lead, Osman Benk Sankoh, expressed gratitude to the President for accepting her appointment.
She said she came to the country at a time when there were a lot of events but was able to meet the Chief Minister, Dr David Moinina Sengeh, who arranged her meetings with government officials. She recalled her meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Timothy Musa Kabba, who received her credentials.
Madam Wakana told the President about her meeting with the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Madam Kenyeh Ballay, with whom she discussed the country’s National Development Plan and offered to assist with the launching of its strategy to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework
for this year.
The UN Resident Coordinator also thanked the President for the privilege to co-chair the Cross-Party National Elections Review Committee, updating that they were now planning for full operations. She expressed hope that with the leadership of the President, their work would be smoother.
She used the occasion to register their condolences to the government, the country and its people for the sad events of 26 November 2023 and the loss of precious lives but praised President Bio for the way he had handled the aftermath so far by prioritising the Rule of Law in dealing with the situation.
She congratulated him on Sierra Leone’s ascendancy to the United Nations Security Council, UNSC, and pledged her office’s support to ensure a successful tenure.
In his remarks, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio welcomed the UN Resident Coordinator, recalling the country’s long history of working with the UN and appreciating the role of the peacekeeping mission after the 11-year war that ended in 2002.
He said although she was familiar with the security situation, their preoccupation as a nation was development, adding that his Big Five Gamechangers, especially how agriculture and education could be aligned with the UN cooperation framework.
President Bio accepted her condolences and noted that the fallen heroes were given a befitting burial and were working on something for the bereaved families. He said the Judiciary was handling the matter with respect for the Rule of Law.
He explained how his government started with education and now trying to stimulate economic growth for a small country that was at the receiving end of the global challenges, dealing with unemployment, food security and malnutrition.
The President noted that they were quite ambitious to do so many things with the little resources they had, adding that that was why they had sought technical assistance to educate the youth and give them the tools they needed to navigate life’s difficult journey. He said they would seek foreign direct investment and stimulate broad-based economic growth through the FEED SALONE programme and achieve food security.
He assured the UN Resident Coordinator that his government was working on the electoral review systems, one of the governance problems they had identified and were determined to deal with it and its related issues.
On the UNSC, President Bio said that Sierra Leone could be considered as having learned a lot since the end of the war in 2002 and that they would bring that unique experience of solving post-war problems to bear on peacekeeping and security issues. He said they were also keen on contributing to dealing with unconstitutional change of governments.
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