Sierra Leone’s newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Timothy M Kabba, convened a productive meeting on Monday, August 21, 2023, with the heads of various diplomatic missions, including Ambassadors and High Commissioners, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. This significant interaction highlighted the Government’s dedication to enhancing diplomatic relations and fostering collaboration on critical global issues.
Minister Kabba and his Deputy, Madam Francess Algali, engaged in an open and fruitful dialogue with the diplomatic community. The meeting marked the Minister’s inaugural interaction with foreign envoys since assuming his role, offering a platform for sharing perspectives and aligning strategies for mutual advancement.
Addressing the assembled diplomats, Minister Kabba expressed sincere gratitude to both the Sierra Leonean Government and its people for the strong and mutually beneficial relationships that have been cultivated with diplomatic partners, particularly during challenging times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. He underscored the achievements of President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s first-term administration, notably the substantial investments in human capital development, healthcare improvement, poverty reduction, youth and women’s empowerment, environmental protection and disaster risk mitigation.
“We have significantly augmented our investments in educating the next generation of our nation, bolstering healthcare systems, addressing poverty and unemployment, empowering marginalized groups, and safeguarding our environment,” Minister Kabba emphasized.
Furthermore, Minister Kabba outlined noteworthy progress in combating corruption, strengthening democratic governance, and implementing reforms that enhance Government’s efficacy, regulatory standards, and the rule of law. He highlighted international benchmarks, such as the MCC scorecard and requirements from the extractive industry’s transparency initiative, as indicators of Sierra Leone’s commitment to positive change.
The Minister emphasized the Government’s dedication to gender equality and the inclusive education of the girl-child. He celebrated the recent achievement of increased women’s representation in Parliament following the multi-tier elections, a historic milestone for the nation.
Sharing President Bio’s second-term priorities, Minister Kabba introduced the “Big Five” agenda, which encompasses initiatives like “Feed Salone,” human capital development, youth employment schemes, revamping the public sector, and technological and infrastructural advancements. He called for collaboration and support from the diplomatic community in realizing these goals.
A highlight of the meeting was Sierra Leone’s election to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council on June 6. Minister Kabba expressed gratitude to the diplomatic community for their contributions to this accomplishment and pledged to leverage the experiences of previous Council members for effective engagement.
In his address, President Bio’s commitment to democracy and peace was underscored. He announced the formation of a National Electoral System Review Committee, comprising independent bodies, to assess the recently concluded elections and recommend improvements for future cycles. This move reflected the Government’s unwavering dedication to democratic values and national stability.
The Dean of the Diplomatic Community, Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Henry John Omaku, commended the Minister’s proactive approach to engagement. He acknowledged the Minister’s demonstrated willingness to collaborate and extend partnership opportunities to the diplomatic community, ensuring mutual understanding and shared objectives.
The meeting also saw inputs from other prominent diplomats, including the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, who reaffirmed China’s commitment to collaboration under the South-South cooperation framework. The UK High Commissioner, Lisa Chesney, praised the strong and enduring relationship between the UK and Sierra Leone and expressed support for addressing the nation’s challenges through dialogue and diversity of perspectives.
The outgoing US Ambassador, David Dale Reimer, acknowledged the robust partnership between the two countries and expressed confidence in continued cooperation under Minister Kabba’s leadership. The Ghanaian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Mrs. Worwornyo Agyema, extended Ghana’s support and proposed information sharing on issues of mutual concern.
The EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Manuel Muller, appreciated the Minister’s openness and pledged continued collaboration with Sierra Leone on various fronts. He highlighted the upcoming EU Electoral Observer Mission’s report on the June elections and commended Sierra Leone’s commitment to strengthening the electoral process and promoting peace in the region.
In her concluding remarks, Dr. Victoria Sulimani, Director-General and Ambassador at Large in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, expressed gratitude for the diplomatic community’s engagement and highlighted their essential role in maintaining strong bilateral relations. She encouraged ongoing dialogue and communication between the diplomatic missions and the Ministry.
As Sierra Leone forges ahead in its pursuit of global cooperation and development, the Minister’s inaugural meeting with the diplomatic community signifies a promising era of strengthened international ties and collaborative endeavors.