The UN development agency, UNDP has collaborated with Hope Sierra Leone to organize a dialogue with members of parliament with a focus to healing wounds, building trust and moving forward together.
On Friday October 3, this year the UNDP representative Edward Kamara told a well attended ceremony marking the launch of the dialogue in Parliament that
that was one of many innovative programmes they have been working towards.
The founder Hope Sierra Leone John Bangura has described UNDP as one of the credible international partners that has helped in transforming the lives of Sierra Leoneans and rebuilding the post war country.
The programme he said was a strategic under the moral foundation of democracy and commended UNDP in the area of promoting good governance and democracy in the country.
Over the years the UN agency has focused on the consolidation of peace, promoting tolerance and reconciliation in its overall effort to ensure sustainable development in the country.
The UNDP sponsored parliamentary dialogue would help promote reconciliation and political tolerance among parliamentarians who form the third most important organs of government, the legislature. They make laws and regulate the running of the state. They therefore constitute an important sector and a fundamental pillar of the society.
The dialogue also hopes to promote high political tolerance and maintain cohesion among our law makers. UNDP together with Hope Sierra Leone has considered parliamentarians as a vital force that influences government policies. Thus, it is expedient that they demonstrate a high sense of political tolerance and become developmentally oriented in meeting the challenges of post war Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone is faced with huge challenges to include the fight against corruption, youth marginalization, gender disparity, poverty, and moral challenges to be able to heal the bitterness of the past.
This dialogue would also focus on transforming the minds of parliamentarians to be able to live up to some of these challenges in their overall effort to promote cohesion among themselves and other key stakeholders who are decision makers and representatives of a wider constituency. If this country were to develop parliamentarians should display a high sense of political tolerance and must be ready to reconcile and dedicate absolute commitment to the consolidation of the country’s hard earned peace.
The dialogue would also look at respect for human rights, good governance and democracy in post war Sierra Leone.
Barely a week ago, the UNDP sponsored dialogue was officially launched by the Hon. Vice President Chief Samuel Sam-Sumana at the parliament building during which he commended UNDP and Hope Sierra Leone for promoting peace, political tolerance and good governance in the country.
He entreated members of parliament to have an open and frank dialogue that would push the country forward especially in maintaining peace.
Following the launch, the first set of twenty parliamentarians convened at Hotel 5-10 for the commencement of the first dialogue session, which provided a forum where legislators were able to deliberate on issues such as standing against corruption, the search for moral values, trust building, teamwork and political tolerance.
The forum brought parliamentarians from different political backgrounds (APC, SLPP, and PMDC) who shared experiences and felt the urge to be tolerant and committed to maintaining the peace in the country.
Whilst at Hotel 5-10 the parliamentarians shared rooms, ate together, and shared fun irrespective of political affiliations, ethnicity or religious beliefs. In an exclusive interview APC’s Hon. Ibrahim Sorie described the dialogue as important and maintained that he would be committed to serving his people judiciously. He called on all Sierra Leoneans to be tolerant.
Hon. Neneh Lebbie of the SLPP spoke in similar vein, adding that the dialogue has improved their thoughts in terms of development and political tolerance. All MPs commended UNDP and Hope Sierra Leone for bringing such innovative programme.
The APC scribe Victor Foh and SLPP Administrative Secretary Brima Koroma served lunch and dinner to parliamentarians whilst at Hotel 5-10. They further implored them to be serviceable and tolerant to eachother.
They also shared their experiences with them whilst in Caux, Switzerland this year, noting that they displayed a high political tolerance irrespective of their different political backgrounds which portrayed good image of Sierra Leone to the outside world. However, the first dialogue ended peacefully and parliamentarians were empowered with renewed zeal to accept each other and maintain the hard earned peace.
Meanwhile, the second dialogue is expected to start on Saturday October 11 – Monday 13 October 2008 at Hotel 5-10 for another set of parliamentarians, mayors and traditional leaders. The remaining six dialogue sessions are expected to take place in the provincial headquarter towns in the South, East and Northern regions in the next two months.