Dr Francis Kaikai assures ACP Heads of States & Government

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By Abdul Malik Bangura

Dr Francis Mustapha Kaikai,  who happens to be the leader of the Sierra Leone delegation to the 9th Summit of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Heads of State and Government currently ongoing at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya, has assured that Sierra Leone is firmly committed to multilateralism.

Dr Francis Mustapha Kaikai, who is the country’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development made this statement on Monday 9th December 2019 as part of his keynote address on behalf of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, who was unavoidably absent for the ACP Summit.

Whilst making his remarks, Minister Kaikai said “The theme for this Summit: A Transformed ACP Group: Committed to Multilateralism” is apt and timely for our organisation. In the last decade or so, our world has experienced a shift in international relations; we are experiencing growing advance towards isolationist policies, away from globalisation which once held the key to global prosperity and eradication of extreme poverty; we now hear calls for the global south to rely more and more on itself and its own resources, etc. All this is happening as the world faces more challenges that defy national boundaries – wars, armed conflicts and terrorism, climate change, disease pandemics, global migration, cybercrimes, transnational crimes, money laundering, and trade wars, among others.”

Additionally, on behalf of the government and people of Sierra Leone, Minister Kaikai said that “it is imperative that the ACP Group, as a community of states with shared interests, history, culture and political economies, to deepen our relationships and build a future of solidarity and shared solutions that will transform the lives of our citizens. This calls for an all embracing multilateralism that serves as a cornerstone in our relations; it is also a call for deeper relations with the United Nations and our respective regional and sub-regional organisations; it is a call for stronger South-South, intra-ACP Cooperation in diverse fields, even as we continue to strengthen our support to triangular cooperation with the global North, particularly the European Union.”

Furthermore, Sierra Leone, Minister Kaikai said, is a relatively small state, and that the country knows the value of multilateralism in peace making, peacebuilding, sustaining peace and security, fighting disease pandemics such as Ebola, fighting transnational crimes, fighting extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development.

The Minister therefore assured that Sierra Leone already has a medium term national development plan that focuses on Human Capital Development and inclusive economic growth. He said that Sierra Leone needs multilateral support for its implementation. Therefore he used the opportunity to thank all member states of the ACP that have contributed to and will continue to engage in Sierra Leone’s steady progress.

Against that backdrop he reaffirmed Sierra Leone’s commitment to the ideals and aspirations of a transformed ACP that Sierra Leone “is committed to Multilateralism, a multilateralism that is truly inclusive that leaves none of our peoples, countries or regions behind.”

Earlier on in the day’s programme, the 9th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government was officially opened by Kenyan President H.E. Uhuru Muigai Kenyetta as the Head of State of the host country, assumed the presidency of the ACP Group, accepting the gavel from outgoing president, the Hon. Davis Madava Steven, Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

Secretary General (SG) of the ACP Group, H.E. Dr. Patrick I Gomes, in his welcome statement, spoke on the theme of the Summit, “A Transformed ACP Committed to Multilateralism”, concluding, “The ACP – transformed and reinvented – looks to the continuation of your renewed guidance and wise counsel, as we enable a multilateralism rooted in everyday life and embedded to principles of justice and democratic governance.”

Seventeen heads of state and 70 of the 79 ACP Member States were in attendance at the Opening. Delegates from across the six ACP Regions and around the world attended the historical ceremony which was dominated by themes of unity and climate change.

First to the podium following the handover was H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, who represented the African region of the ACP Group.  Citing several of the challenges such as poverty and marginalisation facing the ACP Group, the Ghanian President urged a unified approach and a strengthening of the cooperation to successfully address the challenges.

H.E. Ms. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, representing the Caribbean region, issued her own challenge to the Group, asking them if they wanted to remain a relic of the past or a fast track to the future, cautioning, “We ACP must function on our own terms, not on the terms set by others.”

The Pacific region was represented by the outgoing President, H.E. Davis Madava Steven, who shared thoughts on regionalism and multilateralism in the Pacific.

H.E. Mrs. Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) again touched on the challenges imposed by climate change and thanked outgoing SG Gomes for his stewardship of the Group.

Representing the European Union (EU), the ACP Group’s long term partner, newly-elected EU Commissioner responsible for International Partnerships, H.E. Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, commenting that it was only in the dictionary that “I” came before “We”, spoke warmly of the value of partnerships and the strength of the unique partnership between the EU and the ACP Group.

In his inaugural statement, President Kenyatta expressed his gratitude to the outgoing chair for his sterling leadership to ensure that the Group remains vibrant and relevant. During his chairmanship, he pledged that the vision and goals of the group would be placed at the centre of all international engagements to ensure that the ACP Group would become “a beacon of hope and multilateralism”.

The Summit, themed was preceded by Ministerial Sessions from 6 – 8 December 2019 at the KICC.

Meanwhile, other members of the Sierra Leonean delegation to the 9th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Governments comprises the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Solomon Jamiru; the Sierra Leone Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, HE Samuel Tamba Musa; HE Peter Joseph Francis, the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to Kenya; the Director of European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs Sia Annie Tejan; the Director of Development Assurance and Coordination Office (DACO), Mr Kawusu Kebbay; the Minister Plenipotentiary Sierra Leone High Commission in Kenya and Delegation Coordinator, Mr Abdul Karim Kargbo; and the Head of Chancery Sierra Leone High Commission in Kenya, Mrs Juliana SH Fallah.

The first ACP Summit was held in Libreville, Gabon, on November 6-7, 1997, during which the ACP leaders undertook to meet on a regular basis. Consequently, ACP heads of state and government have met every two years on average, in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) on November 25-26, 1999; in Nadi (Fiji) on July 18-19, 2002; in Maputo (Mozambique) on June 23-24, 2004; in Khartoum (Sudan) on December 7- 8, 2006; and in Accra (Ghana) on October 2-3, 2008; Equatorial Guinea (Malabo) December 13-14, 2012; Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby) June 31 May to June 1, 2016.

ACP is an organization created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975. The ACP Group’s main goals centre around the sustainable development of its member states and their gradual integration into the global economy; coordination of the activities of the ACP Group in the framework of the implementation of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreements; consolidation of unity and solidarity among ACP states and establishing and consolidating peace and stability in a free and democratic society.

 

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