Tuesday, July 03, 2007

United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone

FAD doles US$10.9 million to support rural youths in Sierra Leone

About 34,000 rural households in Koinadugu, Kono, Kailahun and Kenema districts are to benefit from a US$10.9 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). A press release from the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) published in Standard Times and Awareness Times say the programme's primary target is young people, including ex-combatants, sexually abused young women and single mothers with a view to consolidating the peace in the country. IFAD's country programme manager for Sierra Leone, Mohamed Tounessi said The Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme will be funded largely by a grant of US$9.9 million from IFAD. As a highly vulnerable indebted country, he said, Sierra Leone is eligible for 100 per cent grant assistance under IFAD's newly approved debt sustainability framework. The programme will establish rural financial services, using a model that IFAD has developed and applied successfully in Benin for 10 years. Villagers will learn how to set up and operate their own financial services associations, which will build equity and make micro credit available to their shareholders. The new activity will also create jobs for young people and rebuild key infrastructure like roads, water supplies, schools and health centres.

Five political parties to contest 2007 elections

Five out of eight political parties that have registered with the Political Party’s Registration Commission (PPRC) will vie for the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, Awoko and Awareness Times report. According to the National Electoral Commission (NEC), the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), the All People’s Congress (APC) party, People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) party, People’s Liberation Movement (PLP) party and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) party, met the deadline of 26 June for submission of parliamentary candidates for the 11 August elections. Out of the five according to New Citizen, only the SLPP, APC and PMDC were able to fill in candidates for all the 112 constituencies in the country. According to the News out of the 112 candidates filled for all constituencies in the country, seventeen (17) were women and 28 were youths. SLPP Secretary General Jacob Jusu Saffa says the reason for the high number of female aspirants was due to the reduction of nomination fees by 50% (from Le1, 000,000 to Le500, 000.00). For the APC, out of the 112 candidates, 12 were women and one disabled youth, a lawyer by profession, whom the Secretary General Victor Foh said is a popular and dynamic youth.

NDA chooses woman as running mate

In adhering to the global call for increase in women participation in decision making particularly in the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has resolved to award the running mate to a female candidate. According to Standard Times, Margaret Sidique from the Southern Region of Bo and Alberta Johnson of the western Area are the two candidates that have been recommended for the high profile position. According to the report, NDA’s decision to appoint a female candidate as their running mate is as a result of “the unique role of women in society”. The running mate will be appointed on 2 July, four days to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) deadline of 6 July.

Political Parties are not above the law, police warn

Political parties have been warned to be mindful of the criminal and the legally constituted laws in the country that protects life and property while engaging in their political campaign for the 2007 polls, Standard Times writes. The Deputy Inspector General of Police Oliver B.M. Somassa informed political parties and their followers that regional commanders have been instructed by the police command to fully institute the criminal code and other electoral laws enshrined in the country’s statute in order to ensure a smooth democratic transition devoid of violence. Mr. Somassa disclosed that the police have undergone intensive training on electoral laws, major incidents management, respect for human rights and other conflict resolution skills so as to strengthen their capacity in handling any potential conflict that would flare up in the elections. The police he said have also been warned to be neutral and refrain from taking sides in political disputes and other unprofessional misconduct that may undermine the integrity of the police force. He assured of absolute security throughout the country ahead of the elections to ensure that law and order is maintained.

UNFPA launches State of World Population Report 2007

“By next year, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population will be living in towns and cities,” the New Citizen quotes the UNFPA Country Representative in Sierra Leone, Barnabas Yisa , as asserting during yesterday’s launch of the State of the World Population 2007 Report at the Atlantic Hall of the National Stadium. He added that by 2030, 23 years from now, urban population is expected to swell to almost 5 billion, that is 60% of the world population pointing out that globally, all future population growth would be in cities and that already, many of these cities have pressing concerns including poverty, crime, lack of clean water and sanitation and sprawling slums but that these problems are not in comparison with those that would be raised by future growth.    

Opposition party raises security concerns

A press release published in the Positive Change newspaper, organ of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), states that as Sierra Leone gears into the first crucial post-war elections, which both Sierra Leone and the international community hope would be free, fair and non-violent, the PMDC was concerned that certain developments are casting ominous shadows on such hopes. The paper recalls that in November last year a cache of arms and ammunition was stolen from the Lungi military garrison and that the arrested suspect escaped and was rearrested but that up to this moment the nation is yet to be informed about the outcome of the investigation. In December 2006, the press release also alleges, three out of five civilians were caught in a car with arms and ammunition and that the suspects were whisked to Freetown as part of Vice President Solomon Berewa’s convoy adding that the public is yet to be informed about the state of that investigation. The paper also points out that earlier this year two memoranda dated 14 and 15 January respectively were delivered to the PMDC secretariat in Freetown in which it was reported that SLPP operatives had plans to ambush, injure and/or kill PMDC officials and supporters, pointing out that in May this year, after a tip-off from the PMDC, the police apprehended thugs along the Waterloo-Masiaka highway. The report also alludes that the arrested thugs were reportedly on their way to Bo to execute an assassination plot against the PMDC leader. Among many other concerns raised in the release were the just concluded visit of Colonel Muammar Ghadafi to the country by road through Guinea, carrying arms, ammunition and sophisticated military ordinance in addition to the map of strategic locations in the country was also of grave concern to the movement. The story is also reported in the New Citizen.

Police ransack Standard Times in search of subversive documents

A front page article on the outcome of a public meeting that was held at the National Stadium between the outgoing President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Libyan Leader Colonel Muammar Ghadaffi that was published in the 27 June edition of Standard Times has put the management and staff of the newspaper in hot waters. According to Standard Times edition of 28 June edition, Police Personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headed by Inspector A.A. Mansaray stormed the office at 2 pm with a search warrant and instruction from the hierarchy of the police that they should search every corner of the office for subversive documents or materials relating to the 27 June edition. According to Unisa Bangura of Standard Times, everywhere was searched but nothing was taken out of the office. “They only instructed us that the editor Philip Neville should report at the CID headquarters for questioning relating to the publication”.     

United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone