Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Commonwealth Secretary-General meets Kabbah today

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Don McKinnon is reported to have arrived in Freetown Saturday on a three-day official visit to Sierra Leone to discuss with its leaders the country's recovery efforts following years of conflict in the 1990s. The Secretary-General is expected to brief President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah on preparations for this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Uganda in November with Commonwealth initiatives which including the work of the Commission on Respect and Understanding that is exploring ways to promote mutual understanding and respect among all faiths and communities; the work of the Committee on Commonwealth Membership which is focusing on the criteria for the organization's membership on top of the list of his agenda. McKinnon will discuss preparations for the forthcoming elections slated for July 28 this year with President Kabbah and also hold discussions with senior officials from the Special Court for Sierra Leone , United Nations representatives, High Commissioners and members of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Speaking ahead of his visit to Freetown , the Secretary-General said the country is a successful example of the zeal and resilience of a people who are confidently rebuilding their nation after years of devastation. The Commonwealth remains committed to supporting Sierra Leone 's recovery efforts, he stressed. The Secretary-General yesterday visited the SOS Children's Village which offers vocational training for young people who are destitute and those affected by the recent civil war where he was taken on a conducted tour of the school and the village. He also interacted with the students and briefed the press. The second leg of Mr. McKinnon's trip will be to Ghana from 5 th to 7 th March where he will be a Special Guest of President John Kufuor to commemorate the country's 50th independence anniversary on the 6 th of March. Mckinnon will meet President Kufuor and other Heads of State and Government during his visit to Accra .  Ghana was a beacon for African independence and unity in 1957; today Ghana remains an inspiration for stability and progress in Africa . From the visionary leadership of President Nkrumah to the current stewardship of President Kufuor, Ghana has overcome many challenges in its journey since independence. Ghana 's golden jubilee symbolizes not only half a century of independence, but also its emergence as a modern, dynamic and democratic African nation. It is a major milestone for reflection on the important contributions made by independent Africa to the evolution of the modern Commonwealth, said Mr. McKinnon. Over the past five years, the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Assistance (CFTC) has provided £3.2 million in assistance to Sierra Leone for post-conflict reconstruction efforts. This included training for the Police Force and local election observers, strengthening the capacity of the National Electoral Commission, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The Secretariat's Youth Affairs Division supports a Commonwealth Youth Diploma Programme administered by Fourah Bay College , University of Sierra Leone .

Source: Concord Times Newspaper ...Sierra Leone, West Africa : Online newspaper