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Sierra Leone/Liberia launch Trans-Boundary Peace Park
By Aruna Turay and Paul Lamin in Kenema
May 18, 2009, 16:22
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His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and Her Excellency President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Friday 15th May 2009 jointly launched a Trans-Boundary Peace Park at Lalehun village, Guara Chiefdom in Kenema District, east of Sierra Leone, where the Gola Forest is located.

Welcoming the two presidents and their entourages, the Resident Minister East, William Johanna Smith, expressed delight that the two Heads of States have come together to do the launching of the park. This he said will actualize a long dream for the conservation of the natural beauty and wild life between the two sister countries.

The minister noted that the ceremony reminded him of 3rd October 1973 when the then two Heads of State, His Excellency Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens of Sierra Leone and His Excellency William Tolbert of Liberia, declared the Mano River Union at Malema, Sorogbema Chiefdom, Sierra Leone, which he said established a free national movement of citizens and thereby creating a firm economic relations between the two countries.

The Trans-Boundary Project, he informed, will also help provide serious security zone where no more rebels or dissidents will hibernate to wreak havoc.

088748332 Mr. William Johanna Smith underscored the importance of the project, stating that the Gola Forest in Sierra Leone and the one in Liberia are almost the same, adding that the two are only separated by a corridor of unprotected forests, international boundaries and some scattered communities.

Launching the project, His Excellency the President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. informed that three decades ago, the former Heads of States of the two countries signed the Mano River Union (MRU) Treaty, furthering that the meeting of the two Presidents to launch yet another historic project is a clear manifestation of the love and respect they have for their predecessors.

President Koroma reaffirmed his Governments support and commitment peace, adding that the protection of the forest is incumbent on the two Heads of States of the two countries.

The President maintained that the preservation of the forest will play a vital role in the fight against climate change in the two countries, adding that mining, stilling of animals and illegal cross boarder activities will pose serious challenge to the protection of the Gola Forest.

President Koroma called on all the seven chiefdoms that border the Gola Forest to fully cooperate with the project, stressing that the Trans-Boundary Peace Park will strengthen the already existing good relationship that the two countries are enjoying.

Delivering the keynote address, the President of Liberia, Her Excellency Dr. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, pointed out that Sierra Leone and Liberia share common values, cultures and above all a long brutal war. She assured that her country remains a close ally of Sierra Leone, and pledged her fullest support to the sustenance of the Gola project.

Also speaking, the Head of the European Union Delegation Hans Allben, thanked the two Heads of States and their local authorities for making the day a remarkable one in the fight against climate change.

Addressing the crowd, the Minister of Agriculture of Sierra Leone, Dr. Sam Sesay reiterated Governments commitment to providing the necessary support for the success of the project.

He thanked the two Heads of States for supporting the project, noting that the Gola Forest is the largest in West Africa and is known worldwide.

He said the forest will serve as a tourist visiting site, and will raise substantial revenue for the two countries.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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