From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

In Sierra Leone, U.N. Secretary General Endorses Bambay Kamara Inquest, Jointly Commissions Public Broadcaster With President Koroma
Jun 16, 2010, 17:06

Freetown, 15th June 2010: The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, has ended his two-days, on-the-spot assessment visit to Sierra Leone after making it clear that justice must be done with regards the alleged extra-judicial killings of former Inspector General of Police James Bambay Kamara and 28 others.

Responding to a question directly posed to him by a journalist during a press conference at State House today with regards the proposed inquest by the Government of Sierra Leone, the UN boss replied that, ‘If there is no justice, peace can only be temporary", adding that the responsibility of ensuring that the inquiry is established squarely lies with the government.

In his initial statement to the press, Mr. Ban Ki Moon said he was in Sierra Leone to see, hear, and feel for himself ‘the vibration of this great country,’ which he said has consequently become one of the world’s most successful peace-making and peace-building countries, with a practical proof of the essentiality of peace. He commended President Koroma for the great work done so far, attributing it to the Head of State’s political will. He however noted that Sierra Leone cannot do it alone and that her peace and developmental efforts would be emulated by other countries emerging from conflict.

He also noted that there’s still more to be improved on with regards jobs for the youths, energy, health, agriculture, and education.

Mr. Ban Ki Moon paid special tribute to President Koroma for his Free Health Care Initiative that targeted children and women, while promising continued support from the United Nations.

In his statement, President Koroma thanked the visiting Secretary General, expressing gratitude on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone for past UN support, "especially during our years of civil war" and the continuing goodwill from the world body. "We have got lots of collaborative support from the UN and your visit is a public testimony that we will continue to be an open and transparent government building upon our peace," the President said.

With regards, jobs for the youths, President Koroma noted that the challenges are great but no doubt government hopes to train and create permanent jobs for the youth with the first step of establishing a youth commission, while promising that government will ensure that all stakeholders work within the laws of the land.

Other questions posed to the Secretary General were in relation to UN support for the establishment of the youth commission and future assistance to the country, to which he committed the United Nation’s continued support for both.

Immediately after the press conference, President Koroma and his guest of honour were driven to New England to jointly commission the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) wresting it from government control, as it were in the days it was known as the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS), to a public broadcaster.

Handing over the new equipment to Chairman of the Board of Trustees Prof Septimus Kaikai, President Koroma said the then SLBS was a very bad arrangement, and that his government thought it fit to properly equip the new corporation before handing it over to the Board of Trustees. The Head of State revealed that Government spent a total sum of two million dollars in the process, with an additional contribution of eight hundred thousand dollars from the UN, while he cautioned that the broadcaster should be used for the development of the nation, regardless of political party, tribe or region.

In his statement, Mr. Ban Ki Moon said the SLBC is owned by all Sierra Leoneans, a clear demonstration of a march to progress which is more of a transformation than a transition. He also had praises for the former UN Radio which has now merged with the former SLBS to become one public broadcaster.

The Secretary General commended President Koroma for initiating the idea of a public broadcaster, while also praising Parliament and the people of Sierra Leone as a whole for being true pioneers. He cautioned journalists to refrain from biased reporting and called for objectivity. "The SLBC should be impartial and objective. I pledge UN continued support and hope that this public broadcaster will shine and be an example for the whole region," he said.

President Koroma and the Secretary General were then taken on a conducted tour of the building and had a live interview on television.

Both dignitaries were earlier welcomed by the Minister of Information and Communications I. B. Kargbo, while the vote of thanks was given by the Chairman of the SLBC Board of Trustees, Prof. Septimus Kaikai.

The Secretary General’s itinerary included meetings with Political Party representatives, Civil Society representatives and UN staff.

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