Saturday, March 03, 2007

Secretary-General visits Sierra Leone and Ghana

Press Release - Commonwealth Secretariat

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon will visit Sierra Leone from 3-5 March 2007 to discuss with leaders the country's recovery efforts following years of conflict in the 1990s. He will also join celebrations in Ghana on 6 March to mark the country's 50 years of independence.
In Sierra Leone, the Secretary-General will brief President Kabbah on preparations for this year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Uganda in November. Also on the agenda are Commonwealth initiatives, including the work of the Commission on Respect and Understanding, which is exploring ways to promote mutual understanding and respect among all faiths and communities; and the work of the Committee on Commonwealth Membership, which is focusing on the criteria for membership of the organisation and other related issues.
Mr McKinnon will also discuss with President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah preparations for the forthcoming elections to take place in Sierra Leone later this year.
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.
Mr McKinnon will hold discussions with senior officials from the Special Court for Sierra Leone, United Nations representatives, High Commissioners and members of the National Electoral Commission.
The Secretary-General will also visit the SOS Children's Village outside Freetown which offers vocational training for young people affected by the recent civil war. The Village also houses a kindergarten, transitional home and centre for the handicapped.
The second leg of Mr McKinnon's trip will be to Ghana from 5-7 March as a Special Guest of President John Kufuor to commemorate the country's 50th Anniversary of Independence on 6 March. The Secretary-General 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 symbolises 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.

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