- Greater efforts are needed by all Sierra Leoneans to build on the momentum generated by the signing of a key peace pact that led to the cessation of political violence earlier this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in a new report released today.
Measures taken to implement the 2 April communiqué signed by the governing All People’s Congress (APC) and the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) “have enabled the strengthening of the peace consolidation process in Sierra Leone,” Mr Ban said.
It has also set up a framework for bi-party consensus on youth issues, illicit drug trafficking and bolstering the West African nation’s democratic institutions, he added in his latest report on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL).
But the Secretary-General underscored the need for stepped-up efforts by all sides to ensure that the current momentum is sustained, particularly the continued support of international development partners as well as dealing with political intolerance and violence ahead of the 2012 elections.
High youth employment and drug trafficking continue to impede the consolidation of peace, he said, further noting that also hurting Sierra Leone is the global economic downturn, which has decreased foreign aid, external investments and overseas remittances.
“Especially worrying,” Mr Ban emphasised, “is the fact that Sierra Leone continues to register extremely high infant and maternal mortality and poverty levels, which call for increased engagement by the international community to help reverse those negative trends.”
Concluding the process of constitutional reform is “long overdue,” he said, noting that UNIPSIL stands ready to provide technical support.
Given the assistance being provided by UNIPSIL to help Sierra Leone progress on the road to peace, the Secretary-General called for a one year extension of its mandate.
Last August, the Security Council authorized the creation of UNIPSIL to replace the UN political office in the country, known as UNIOSIL, and gave it an initial mandate of 12 months.
UNIPSIL, which works closely with the UN Peacebuilding Commission, is tasked with providing political support to national and local efforts for identifying and resolving tensions and threats of potential conflict. It also monitors and promotes human rights, democratic institutions and the rule of law, including efforts to counter transnational organised crime and drug trafficking.
Sierra Leone is one of the first two countries, along with Burundi, to receive support from the Commission, which was established in 2005 to help post-conflict countries determine the priority areas for rebuilding out of the vast array of challenges they face.
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