Annan Optimistic for Sierra Leone Recovery, Peace

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(Rapaport…May 4, 2006) In his first address on progress in Sierra Leone since peace keepers left the country at year-end 2005, United Nations’ secretary general Kofi Annan urged the West Africa nation to “deal with the increasing youth unemployment, rampant corruption, and growing border tension with Guinea.” Unless the issues are dealt with urgently, Annan warns that the current calm could be destabilized.

Annan remains optimistic on the future of Sierra Leone and he called upon the world community to actively involve themselves in helping boost economic conditions in the diamond rich nation.

“The international community, which has invested considerable resources over the past seven years to end the war and consolidate the peace, needs to keep a close eye on some of the negative trends identified in this report, and continue to support the government in addressing the many challenges that remain, in particular promoting economic recovery and good governance,” Annan said.

Annan addressed the Security Council regarding progress made since January 1, 2006, when UNIOSIL took over monitoring political and social conditions in Sierra Leone.

The upcoming trial of former Liberia President Charles Taylor could also serve as a “source of security incidents,” Annan said, but at present time the situation is under control.

“I urge the government, with support from its partners, to pay particular attention to these factors and introduce corrective measures expeditiously. Good governance and healthy economic policies and the continuation of major reforms should remain the long-term priority for Sierra Leone,” Annan said.

Sierra Leone plans to hold general elections in 2007 to which Annan suggested would be a “major test of the sustainability of the peace and stability” in the region.

UNIOSIL is the first integrated United Nations office established to support the peace consolidation process after the completion of a peacekeeping operation, and Annan said that so far the integration experiment has worked well in Sierra Leone.

The report also concludes that Sierra Leone’s government must redouble efforts to stem corruption it found within the country’s police force.

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