CHRDA condemns Cameroon governments travel permits requirements and restrictions in Anglophones regions

nkongho

Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongho 

The Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) has strongly condemned the decision by the Cameroonian Government to issue a travel restriction among Anglophones in the North west region and implores the government to start an all-inclusive dialogue to end the deadly crisis.

“This tragic decision by the government violates the best traditions of Cameroon’s constitution as well as in direct contravention of international humanitarian and human rights laws. We implore President Paul Biya, and those around him, to consider the ramifications of the travel restrictions on Anglophones,” said Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongho, Founder and Chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa.

The organization made it position public in a press release on Tuesday.


These kinds of action not only harm the future prospects of individuals and peace, but also diminishes our own reputation and performance as an outward-looking community.

Calls on government to start an all-inclusive dialogue to end the deadly crisis; Calls on all Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon and the international community to speak out against this hateful policy 

The Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) (www.CHRDA.org), the leading human rights organization working to realize human rights in Cameroon,  strongly condemns the decision by the government of President Paul Biya through its Regional Delegate of Transport in the Northwest Region, to issue a travel restriction among Anglophones in the North west region.

This policy amounts to nothing less than a xenophobic and counterproductive action by the government and it should be repealed immediately.

This tragic decision by the government violates the best traditions of Cameroon’s constitution as well as in direct contravention of international humanitarian and human rights laws. We implore President Paul Biya, and those around him, to consider the ramifications of the travel restrictions on Anglophones.

In a time when the country is faced with its worst crisis since independence many citizens and law enforcement personal losing their life’s, Cameroonians are looking to their government for many things including leadership, all-inclusive dialogue, guaranteeing their rights and ending the violence.

These kinds of action not only harm the future prospects of individuals and peace, but also diminishes our own reputation and performance as an outward-looking community.

This policy by the government does not make Anglophone and Francophones safe; rather, it makes us less safe by breeding negative sentiments around the country, stifling opportunities, escalating violence,  interfering with cross-cultural relationship building, and making it more difficult to provide assistance and protection to those who need it most especially the refugees I visited in Nigeria and Internally displace persons CHRDA tries to assist on a daily basis.

In the midst of an escalating war in the country, this is a significant setback for those who are obviously in need of protection and those who are finding peaceful solution to the crisis. The Cameroon government must live up to its international obligations and provide protection for those fleeing persecution and conflicts in the Anglophone region and not restrict travel.

We call on all Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon and the international community to join us in speaking out against this hateful policy, which sends an official message of intolerance, undermines the Cameroonian people, and threatens the lives of thousands of people who desperately and urgently need sanctuary in our country—while doing nothing to bring peace to the Anglophone region.

Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongho
Founder and Chairman
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa

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How Djibouti like Zambia is about to loose its port to China

One such African country that is exhibiting all the red flag signals of going Sri Lankan and now Zambian way is Djibouti

China-Djibouti

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh

Beijing’s cumulative loans to Africa since 2000 amounted to $124-billion by 2016, according to figures compiled by the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI).

Djibouti is projected to take on public debt worth around 88 percent of the country’s overall $1.72 billion GDP, with China owning the lion’s share of it.

On March 2018, Djibouti signed a partnership agreement with a Singaporean company that works with China Merchants Port Holdings Co. or CMPort—the same state-owned corporation that gained control of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka—to build the Doraleh Multipurpose Port.

In recent years, China has emerged as a key investor and a generous, ready and easy lender to African countries.

Beijing’s cumulative loans to Africa since 2000 amounted to $124-billion by 2016, according to figures compiled by the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in the United States.

Angola, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo respectively, were the top beneficiaries of these loans. Angola’s oil-related loans worth $21.2 billion since 2000 total roughly a quarter of cumulative Chinese loans to the entire continent.

“Half of those loans were given in the past four years,” Janet Eom, an associate researcher at CARI, told DW. “So Africa’s debt to China is becoming more of a concern moving forward.”

While African Presidents are  at least this time round somehow exempted from the indignity of being talked down while clutching their begging bowls at western capitals before a few notes is thrown into their bowls, the readily available Chinese loans are not entirely risk free.

Economists and other international financial institutions are becoming increasingly worried that the East Asian giant under a careful disguised “debt trap” diplomacy is burying many developing and poor countries in massive debt and then forcing the highly indebted countries to hand over some of their key infrastructures’ such as the case of Sri Lanka.

One such African country that is exhibiting all the red flag signals of going Sri Lankan and now Zambian way is Djibouti.

Djibouti lies more than 2,500 miles from Sri Lanka but the East African country faces a predicament similar to what its peer across the sea confronted in 2017, after borrowing more money from China than it could pay back.

In both countries, the money went to infrastructure projects under the aegis of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Sri Lanka racked up more than $8 billion worth of debt to Chinese sovereign-backed banks at interest rates as high as 7 percent reaching a level too high to service. With nearly all its revenue going toward debt repayment, in 2017 after being pushed to the wall, Sri Lanka threw in the towel and handed over the Chinese-built port at Hambantota under a 99-year lease with China having a 70 percent stake.

Djibouti is projected to take on public debt worth around 88 percent of the country’s overall $1.72 billion GDP, with China owning the lion’s share of it, according to a report published in March by the Center for Global Development.

At the end of 2016 China owned 82% of Djibouti’s external debt.

On March 2018, Djibouti signed a partnership agreement with a Singaporean company that works with China Merchants Port Holdings Co. or CMPort—the same state-owned corporation that gained control of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka—to build the Doraleh Multipurpose Port.

That project was completed in May 2017.

The port is significant not only because it sits next to China’s only overseas military base  but also because it is the main access point for American, French, Italian and Japanese bases in Djibouti and is used — because of its strategic location — by parts of the U.S. military that operate in Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

One concern is that the Djibouti government, facing mounting debt and increasing dependence on extracting rents, would be pressured to hand over control of Camp Lemonnier to China.

In a letter to National Security Advisor John Bolton in May, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), two members of the Senate Armed Service Committee, wrote that Djibouti’s  President Guelleh seems willing to “sell his country to the highest bidder,” undermining U.S. military interests.

“Djibouti’s now identified as one of those countries that are at high risk of debt distress. So, that should be sending off all sorts of alarm bells for Djiboutians as well as for the countries that really rely on Djibouti, such as the United States,” said Joshua Meservey, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

And that’s not all, China is not done yet with Djibouti, Beijing has been earmarked the country as one of 68 countries set to be involved in its ambitious One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR).

Problem is eight of the 68 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative currently face unsustainable debt levels, according the Center for Global Development’s report.

The eight nations are Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.

As past experiences have shown the eight nations will certainly be enticed to chew more than they can swallow and by the end of it end up being even poorer than they are now.

As the cradle of mankind continues to sink deeper into debt condemning future generations to economic slavery, the late Whitney Houston feat Deborah Cox classic ‘Same Script, Different Cast’  has never rang truer.


Published courtesy of APO Group on behalf of Business Insider.

The Gambia: Overcoming Corruption’s Toll

The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, but the legacy of more than two decades of authoritarian rule has left its new democratically elected government with big challenges. The Gambia’s Finance Minister, Amadou Sanneh, began the daunting task of rebuilding its devastated economy only days after his release from prison under the old regime. Sanneh was in Washington D.C. for the 2018 IMF-World Bank Spring meetings, and IMF Country Focus sat down with him to talk about the economic impact of the former government’s isolationism.

Gambia

Gambian Finance Minister, Amadou Sanneh, says recovering from years of isolation is no easy task for his country (photo: Luc Gnago/Newscom)

What was the state of the economy when you stepped in as Finance Minister?

When I stepped in, in January 2017, The Gambia was a broken country. Also, bankrupt. Most of the institutions were affected by the 22 years of dictatorial rule. Institutional processes were broken and a lot of the state-owned institutions were near bankruptcy. Every sector was damaged.

So what were your priorities?

We tried to bring sanity back into the economy. We introduced controls for fiscal management and brought in all the income streams that previously were not being used for the government.

What about debt?

The debt we inherited was 120 percent of GDP. So, this is a big challenge for us. We’ve tried to reduce the level of borrowing and to restructure the debt, especially domestic debt. We are reducing the short-term debt by issuing three five-year bonds, which were successfully subscribed. And, on the international debt, we had been invited to discussions with the Paris Club. So, they’re working on a way to see how they can assist The Gambia in restructuring or obtaining relief from our creditors.

So you have a compelling story. Tell us about your personal circumstances and how you came to be a policymaker in The Gambia.

By profession I am an accountant, and I was appointed accountant general by the armed forces in 1994 when the military took over. We thought it would return to civilian rule after the two years, but they decided to continue. So, I resigned in 1996 and set up my own practice. In 2013, they charged me with sedition and put me in jail for three years.

The government put you in jail?

This was a strategy to silence the opposition. And so the current Foreign Minister was in jail with me, and the Minister of Lands was also there, and many of our executives. They just rounded up all of us and put us in jail.

Were you able to stay in touch with what was going on while you were in prison?

We tried our best but they were brutal. They took out all the televisions so we couldn’t get information. No radio, no letters, no calls.

And how did you become Finance Minister?

When the new government was sworn in, the current President, Adama Barrow, pardoned and released all of us, and two days later I became Minister of Finance and the National Treasurer of the United Democratic Party.

How did that make you feel stepping out of prison and into the position of Finance Minister? Did you feel overwhelmed having been isolated all that time?

Yes. It was really not something I was banking on. I just wanted to be free, out of prison. I was going to take a holiday, rest myself, and then continue with my life. But, you know, when I was appointed, the challenge is what really dawned on me. It wasn’t a small task. Becoming Finance Minister in a country that is bankrupt, with no resources, and in complete isolation. A lot of the people who were skilled civil servants had to leave the country, so we had capacity problems. It was serious. We had to take on this challenge. I will say it wasn’t easy, especially in the first year.

Now you’re in the process of rebuilding the country essentially. How much of this process is about Gambians regaining the trust in government institutions?

I think one of the biggest dividends in this chain of events is the freedom that people feel. People are so vibrant now. In the media, there are no restrictions, and they’re often very critical to government.

As they should be, right?

Yes. Every little thing, they analyze and comment. So it keeps us on our toes. It’s something we fought for and we cherish it, a strong democratic freedom of speech. Before you couldn’t say anything and you were always looking who was behind you. Now people are free. We are doing reforms. Legal reforms. And the codes have been reformed. And the constitution is also being reformed because the former president changed our constitution. He introduced articles where if you were 65 or older, you could not stand for elections. That was a way of banning opposition members from running because they were older than him. It’s really shocking and alarming.

There’s been—especially at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings—a lot of talk about trying to encourage more investment in Africa. How do you see The Gambia fitting into that initiative?

We are doing our best to create the environment in terms of doing business in The Gambia. We have some incentives that we offer to investors, like tax holidays and duty-free capital equipment for those setting up manufacturing. So, we are doing our best. I know it’s a competitive environment, but at least we are also playing a role to make The Gambia a very friendly investment country. And the hotel industry this year picked up very well. We now have fully booked hotels all over compared to the time we took over when the crisis was there, flights were canceled and hotel occupancy went down to zero. And today we are expecting two new five-star hotels being built, so the investors in that sector at least we are getting confidence from that. So, it’s picking up now. We have seen some growth signs and that is encouraging.

And are the local young entrepreneurs also gaining confidence in the idea of starting businesses?

Yes. That is very important because the level of unemployment is very high. We’ve seen a big deficit in the skill level. We need a lot of skills training for the youth into the various disciplines. And hopefully, when they excel to a certain level they can open their own business. There’s only a certain number that can serve in the public service. The role already we feel is over bloated from the previous regime. And, you know, redundancies are a painful exercise and sometimes politically very tense for the government, but some of this we have to face. So, we are encouraging the locals to get into businesses and entrepreneurship.

But the main concerns have been the cost of capital or access to capital. That access is a serious problem because the rates have been around 24 percent at commercial banks. And apart from import/export quick trading where you will pay off loans in two or three months, if you take 24 percent into a business that’s long term, it’s going to be extremely difficult to survive.

What do you think the role is of the international community in trying to help get the country back on its feet?

I think they have a role to play, to bring us back into the international circle. And we have been very happy the way our partners, both bilateral and multilaterals, have come to support The Gambia in these challenging times. The World Bank gave budget support last year, the European Union gave budget support, and the IMF came in with the Rapid Credit Facility program. So, they’re supporting both the budget and institutional reforms and providing policy advice.

The Gambia is so small, about 2 million population; it’s not even the size of some of the towns in some countries. So I think to transform the situation, although it’s challenging, it’s something that can be achieved. We are encouraging our partners to come up with more and reinforced—I will say front-loaded—assistance to help transform the current situation that we are in. And then, it will become easy for us to manage ourselves and invest in the future development of this little country.


The articled published courtesy of the IMF

Why Bobi Wine represents such a big threat to Museveni

Bobi

The ground is shifting under the feet of Uganda’s ruling party, the National Resistance Movement. Shutterstock

Richard
Authors:
Richard Vokes Associate professor, University of Western Australia
SamSam Wilkins PhD Student in Politics, University of Oxford
Disclosure statement: Richard Vokes is at the University of Western Australia. He has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), Wenner Gren (USA), The Royal Society of New Zealand, the British Institute in Eastern Africa, the British Library and the Australian Research Council. He is President of the Australian Anthropological Society, and Editor of the Journal of Eastern African Studies.
Sam Wilkins has received funding from the University of Oxford and the British Institute in Eastern Africa. He is affiliated with the University of Melbourne.
Partners: University of Western Australia provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU. University of Oxford University of Oxford provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

Over the past fortnight, Uganda has been convulsed by the fallout from the arrest of opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi – better known as Afro-beat pop superstar Bobi Wine. His arrest, along with others opposed to the government, led to violent street protests in the capital Kampala and other urban centres.

The current upheavals began in mid-August when President Yoweri Museveni, Bobi Wine, and other opposition MPs descended on the north-western town of Arua to campaign in a by-election.

After several hours of raucous campaigning on all sides, the president’s motorcade was attacked with stones as it left the town, allegedly by Bobi Wine’s supporters. Museveni reached his helicopter unharmed. But his security detail returned to Arua and unleashed a wave of violence against the crowds still gathered there.

In the ensuing melee Bobi Wine, five other opposition MPs, two journalists and at least 28 other people were arrested. Bobi Wine’s driver – Yasiin Kawuma – was shot dead. Over the following days, other opposition figures were also arrested.

Almost immediately after news broke of the arrests and Kawuma’s death, street protests erupted in Kampala. These initially centred on the poor neighbourhood of Kamwokya (where Bobi Wine’s studio is located) and Kyadondo East (his constituency), but quickly spread. The unrest worsened as news emerged that Bobi Wine and the other arrested MPs had been badly mistreated in custody. When he finally appeared in court 10 days later he could barely walk.

The growing protests drew a sharp response from the security services. The violence left dozens of people hospitalised, and at least two dead. Journalists writing about the affair have been threatened.

The arrest and intimidation of opposition figures isn’t new in Museveni’s Uganda. Even so, the speed and severity of the security forces’ response was shocking. Their initial reaction was bad enough. But the subsequent escalation and the treason case against Bobi Wine suggests there’s more to the story than trigger happy soldiers.

And there is. Bobi Wine has been released on bail. This may draw a line under recent events — for now. But Museveni’s problems have only just begun, and run deep. He’s facing an increasingly agitated younger voter base, an erosion of the National Resistance Movement’s political model, and the growing prominence of social media in Uganda’s political life. All these factors will only grow over time.

Changing voter profile

In its first two decades of rule, the National Resistance Movement effectively operated as a single party under the “movement system”: all candidates were forced to stand as individuals rather than members of national political parties.

This legacy endures. The “individual” culture of local politics has continued since the National Resistance Movement became a political party in 2005. Its key constituents are rural voters who engage in politics mainly on local issues. They are also old enough to remember the horrific civil war that preceded Museveni’s tenure.

To these voters removing the president from power is a perilous, even traumatic idea. Ethnographic research we carried out in southern Uganda during the 2016 presidential election campaigns confirms this. It shows that most of Museveni’s voters aren’t simply coerced or bought off – they don’t want him replaced.

There is little reason to think that the old system is collapsing. Rather the problem for Museveni is that the number of those whose interests and identities it does not cater for is increasing.

This group includes younger voters. They have no memory of the war, have a relatively good education that has led them to want more than the agricultural livelihood of their parents, and stubbornly engage with politics on a national rather than local scale.

They’re not interested in replacing a local MP. They want a new president.

These voters have never been a key constituency for Museveni. Previously their political threat could be dismissed – there weren’t many of them, they were organisationally weak and concentrated in a few urban centres.

But the ground is shifting under the National Resistance Movement’s feet.

Young voters are now scattered across the country, including in the towns of Museveni’s rural southern heartland. The advent of social media makes it easier for them to network and communicate with each other. They can also get around more easily.

Most significantly, their numbers are rising fast. Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world. Just over 48% of its population is 14 years and younger while one in five (21.16%) of the total population are aged between 15 and 24. Only 2% of the population is 65 years or older.

So the 36-year-old Bobi Wine is not a threat because he is saying something that no opposition leader has said before. It’s because he has, with considerable skill, positioned himself as a champion of this growing demographic.

Building a movement

Museveni likes to portray his opponents as either divisive tribalists or young hooligans – and worse. Bobi Wine is none of these, as proved by the erudite public letters he traded with Museveni after his 2017 election. He has built a wide platform defined by youth more than ethnicity, class, region or religion.

And, critically, a string of recent by-elections across the country (including Arua) have shown that this brand transcends his local constituency.

It’s no coincidence that Bobi Wine’s most recent run-in with the law actually happened five weeks earlier during a protest in Kampala against Uganda’s controversial new “social media tax” (during which the authorities accused him of inciting a riot).

In the period leading up to the Arua by-election Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp all saw a marked uptick in posts about Bobi Wine and his emerging constituency.

Social media has also played a central role after Arua. Images of Bobi Wine and the other opposition MPs’ alleged mistreatment in custody were circulated widely, exacerbating the popular unrest.

News of the general tumult also spread via social media to the Ugandan diaspora, resulting in rallies being held in Berlin, London, Washington DC, and elsewhere.

It was once possible to discuss opposition to Museveni in regional and ethnic terms. But, increasingly, opposition is a generational story. Whether the enduring face of this new politics is Bobi Wine or someone else, Ugandan politics is clearly changing.


The article was first published by The Conversation. Published courtesy of The Conversation

South Africans differ on land reform. But there needs to be a meeting of minds

Land Reform

South African land reform debates reflect a tricky balance of power post Jacob Zuma’s rule. GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s late night announcement that the government was going to push ahead with implementing a decision taken by the African National Congress (ANC) at its national conference last year to expropriate land without compensation has set the cat among the pigeons.

Roger
Author
  Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand
Disclosure statement: Roger Southall receives funding from the National Research Foundation
Partners: University of the Witwatersrand provides support as a hosting partner of The Conversation AFRICA.

Speculation is widespread that Ramaphosa gave in to the land expropriation without compensation proposition to appease a faction of former president Jacob Zuma which has positioned itself as a champion of “radical economic transformation”.

There is also the view that Ramaphosa is out to promote party unity and to outflank the Economic Freedom Fighters, to the party’s left, in the buildup to the 2019 general election.

All this appears fair comment, and is no way unduly cynical. Politicians say things, whether or not it is entirely wise to say them, to get votes.

Yet the land debate is about much more than party politicking. In many ways, it goes to the heart of South Africa’s post-colonial politics. It speaks to fundamental racial chasms. This points to the very real danger that the different terms on which the land issue is debated simply don’t address each other.

It would seem to me that there are three broad approaches to which the land issue is debated – the instrumental, the functionalist and the symbolic.

All three approaches have a number of things in common. They all recognise the dangers inherent in the grossly disproportionate amount of land owned by whites, they accept that this has arisen out of the injustices of the colonial past, and agree that it needs to be addressed for reasons of both social justice and political stability.

Beyond that there tends to be disagreement about ways, means and the urgency of land reform.

It’s important to understand these different approaches and how they relate to the ANC’s proposed implementation of land expropriation without compensation. It’s particularly important for people who hold these different viewpoints to understand and find one another. South Africans can’t afford to let the land debate be reduced to a shouting match.

The instrumental approach

This argues its case upon both ideological and constitutional grounds.

There is the argument that the ANC’s move represents a fundamental undermining of property rights, to the extent that it might even threatenthe ownership rights of ordinary house-owners in urban areas. As such, it constitutes a major disincentive to investment and totally contradicts Ramaphosa’s highly-touted goal of attracting USD$100 billion in investment over the next five years.

Furthermore, because of the threat to security it involves, the move will serve as major discouragement to commercial farmers, who are unlikely to pour money into infrastructural improvements if they fear being expropriated. As such expropriation without compensation is a major threat to both jobs and economic growth.

The property rights argument is backed up by those who posit that the considered constitutional amendment is unnecessary because the constitution already allows for the expropriation of property by the state for public interest purposes.

This, the constitutionalists argue, gives the state all the armoury it needs to pursue land reform with urgent speed without threatening property rights.

The functionalist approach

This says that there is a desperate hunger for land among impoverished black poor. This needs to be addressed on grounds of need and political stability.

Economically, the argument is that, while the role of commercial agriculture as the principal producer of the nation’s food supply and of significant exports need to be recognised, there are many areas where farming could be successfully undertaken by black farmers, given the right support. This perspective is steeped in history. It points out how white commercial agriculture was systematically advantaged by the state under white rule, and how prosperous black peasant communities, whose competitiveness constituted a threat to white farmers, were dispossessed.

It’s argued that there is much land available in South Africa which could valuably be transferred into private or communal black hands. Such land includes property owned by the state, land held by speculators, and farms which over the last two decades have shed most of their workers as they have turned over from direct food production to become game farms.

The symbolic approach

This angle to the debate appeals to the heart as much to the head. It harps on the point that land belongs to Africans. It was stolen by the colonialists and should be given back.

The symbolic approach is overwhelmingly about African dignity. As such, it often involves notions of reparations. It tends to brush aside all the difficult policy issues about how land transfer should be managed, let alone the injustices which may be heaped upon white landowners who had nothing to do with the original theft of African land.

Meeting of minds

Ramaphosa is well known for playing the long game, a pragmatist who is ready to bend to political pressures to achieve his long-term objectives.

It may well be that he will bow to the ANC imperative to pass a law allowing for expropriation without compensation. But he will want to make sure that it will pass constitutional muster. He will ensure that this amendment meets the requirements of the property clause in the constitution.

From this perspective, it’s tempting to conclude that the huffing and puffing about the ANC’s pursuit of expropriation without compensation is really about nothing. But that’s not the case. The Zimbabwean experience confirms this.

It was the Zimbabwean government’s lack of urgency about land reform in the first decades of independence which provided the backdrop to the war veterans’ seizure of white farms in the late 1990s. It was then that the Robert Mugabe government stepped in to give the land seizures legitimacy and to claim the credit.

Much controversy attends the land question in Zimbabwe to this day. Certainly, the post-2000 land reforms have not been a total failure. Nonetheless, what is beyond dispute is that the way they have been carried out has come at enormous cost to overall agricultural production. As such, the Zimbabwe mode of land reform is one South Africa cannot afford to adopt – or to be bundled into by a panic-stricken government scrambling to keep up with events on the ground.

The address of the land issue requires a meeting of minds. The instrumental, functionalist and symbolic approaches all have their important role to play, and humility and willingness to listen to competing perspectives should be at a premium.


The article was first published by the Conversation

Sierra Leone: President Bio says preparing diplomats for a new life is very important

President Julius Maada Bio has officially opened a three-day induction for Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Financial Attaches, noting that “the idea to prepare them for a new life is very important”.

InductionForDiplomats2
In his keynote address at the Conference Hall on Tower Hill of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, President Bio thanked the host for conceptualising the orientation for diplomats that outlined key elements of the broader vision of the government’s foreign policy trajectory in line with the New Direction manifesto.

He said the foreign ministry had faced many challenges over the years and observed
that many institutions, charged with the responsibility of servicing the country’s
international relations and the promotion of her national interest, were barely capable
making any significant marks on the international scene and enhancing Sierra
Leone’s image on the world stage.

“By the time I assumed office, it was very difficult for our country to attract the much
needed foreign direct investments. The lack of clear foreign policy direction and the
low calibre of some of the people appointed in the past as diplomats to pursue our
country’s interest abroad, constituted a precarious challenge to increasing the gains
from the country’s diplomatic and foreign relations,” he said.

He noted that the induction session marked both a defining moment in the country’s
history and also a major turning point for his government’s foreign policy trajectory,
adding that, the ceremony again signified a new and vibrant foreign policy approach
for the country. He called on the new diplomats to have a clear focus on promoting
favourable development and trade relations consistent with the evolving global
trends for the country’s long-term national economic development.

“Together, we have chosen to lead this nation onto a new path. This new path must
be progressive, result-oriented and disciplined. We must put our country first and extol our potentials as a force for good in the international system. It cannot be business as usual. The people of Sierra Leone deserve better. We have to be the gold standard and to consistently deliver what we promised,” he averred.

Whilst acknowledging the immunities attached to diplomats in their host countries as
guaranteed by the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic relations of 1961 and the
consular relations of 1963, President Bio pleaded with the new diplomats not to
misuse or abuse those diplomatic privileges. He said they should rather effectively
use those privileges to facilitate productive bilateral relations between Sierra Leone
and the accredited countries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Alie Kabba, said that the ministry had not lived up to its
mandate over the years and therefore was unable to make imprints in foreign direct
investments to support national growth and development, and to attract the recognition Sierra Leone deserved in the sub-region, Africa and the world at large.

He added that: “In line with the New Direction, the country’s foreign relations
objectives will be revised to an elaborate and robust foreign policy for Sierra Leone
with a clearly focused reorientation that will de-emphasise dependence on foreign
aid. We will pursue one that’s in favour of promoting favourable development and
trade relations consistent with evolving global trends and anticipated outcomes for
national economic development and restructure the Foreign Ministry to fully reflect
the new national policy objectives,” he ended.

Sierra Leone: New Head of UN Mission Bids Farewell to President Bio

Head of Sierra Leone’s Permanent Mission to the UN, has called on His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at State House to bid farewell as he takes up his new office in New York, United States.

Dr Kaikai1

(L-R) Dr. Francis Kaikai  and President Julius Maada Bio at State House

Ambassador Dr. Francis Kaikai thanked the President for the confidence reposed in
him to represent the country at the United Nations, adding that his appointment was
coming at a crucial time when the New Direction was demanding that everyone does
their best in moving the country forward.

Dr Kaikai recently served as chief adviser and head of the peace consolidation
services section of the UN Mission in Liberia.
He said he had followed the New Direction agenda keenly and believed in what it
stands for while assuring the President that he would do his best to represent the
government and people of Sierra Leone at the UN.

“United Nations is the global hub for multilateral diplomacy. I am fully aware of the
challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead and how to exploit them in the
interest of this country. In the New Direction, most of what you have outlined is very
consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN and we will try to
pursue that and make sure our narrative is in line with what is in the New Direction,”
he said.

The new Ambassador, who is also plenipotentiary to Cuba and Mexico, mentioned
that the two countries were also very important members of the international
community and pledged to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deepen Sierra
Leone’s ties with those countries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Dr Alie Kabba, thanked
President Bio for appointing Ambassador Dr Kaikai, whom he believed would
represent the country well at the UN, a critical place to the country’s global
diplomatic work. He said his ministry was excited to be working with someone of his
calibre and therefore urged him to use his office to increase the country’s global
footprint.

On his part, President Bio congratulated Ambassador Dr Kaikai on his new role. He
said the task ahead was a very challenging one thus the reason he had decided to
specifically choose him was because of his competence and wealth of experience.

He added: “Because of the multilateral nature of the United Nations job, I decided
that you should be the best person to serve us at the New York station. We also
want to deepen our relationship with Mexico and Cuba and we think you can play a
critical role in that direction. We have some repairs to do to our reputation as a
nation because quite a lot has been done over the years to damage our reputation
but I have no iota of doubt that you will do a lot to bring us back to a respectable
stance. Rest assured of our fullest support back home”.