Sierra Leone’s President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma reaffirmed government’s unwavering commitment to the successful implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) National Programme of Action (NPOA) in the Republic of Sierra Leone.
He made the pledge during his presentation of the 1st and 2nd APRM NPOA of Sierra Leone spanning the period January – December 2013 and January to December 2014 at the 23rd Summit of the forum of heads of state and government participating in the APRM on June 13, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
According to President Koroma, the APRM is viewed as an urgently required intervention in the country’s strides to build a united, developed, democratic, prosperous and a peaceful nation. Against this context, he said, government will continue to provide budgetary support to the APRM National Governing Council and Secretariat while ensuring professionalism, integrity and independence of the National Governing Council as well as supporting the enthronement of good governance in Sierra Leone.
The president informed the panel of eminent persons that the reports were being presented at a time of Public Health Emergency to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus that has engulfed the country in May, 2014. “The presentation is therefore a practical demonstration of government’s firm resolve to faithfully comply with APRM Good Governance requirements,” he stated. He therefore called for a minute of silent prayers for all those who had and continue to fall victim of the dreadful disease in not just Sierra Leone but the entire Mano River Union basin.
Highlighting some of the initiatives and programmes that had been implemented since the peer review of Sierra Leone in 2012, President Koroma explained that the current 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone is now 24 years old and therefore in need of review and modernization.
He said the Constitutional Review process officially launched by the Government of Sierra Leone is being tasked with the responsibility of reviewing and modernizing the 1991 Constitution with a view to pay close attention to those sections and provisions that appear to have ambiguities in order to ensure greater clarity of “our statutes; and rationalize our governance process”.
The president also apprised the panel of Sierra Leone’s Development Blueprint – the Agenda for Prosperity (2013 – 2017) which prioritized good governance as a major foundation for sustainable development. He accentuated the fact that Pillar 7 of the agenda entitled: “Governance and Public Sector Reform” which emphasizes political and local governance as well as improved justice, safety and security sector delivery systems, is indicative of government’s commitment to good governance.
The Right to Access Information Act (2013), the Anti-Corruption Act (2008), the ratification of the 2006 AU African Youth Charter on November 26, 2013 by the Sierra Leone Parliament, the passing of the Gender Acts, the Disability Act of 2011 were all highlighted by President Koroma as significant milestones in ensuring and guaranteeing greater transparency and accountability, the rule of law, respect for human rights, protecting youth rights and security, promoting and protecting women’s rights as well as the rights of persons with disabilities.
On the issue of Ebola, President Koroma mentioned that Sierra Leone, in collaboration with development partners, including regional organizations, responded to the challenges posed by the epidemic by adopting measures to combat the outbreak through the establishment of initially the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which was later reconstituted into the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), the development of a National Ebola Response Plan, the declaration of a State of Emergency, passing of bye-laws to enforce emergency regulations, establishment of holding and treatment centers, labs, and the development of a post-Ebola recovery plan. These measures, he articulated, have contributed in diverse ways to bringing down the Ebola infection rates in the country. He however, urged for the need to avoid complacency in the fight to end the outbreak.