U.N. Official Praises Sierra Leone’s ‘Tremendous’ Progress

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RAPAPORT… After a week-long visit to Sierra Leone, United Nations peace building representative Dutch ambassador Frank Majoor had tremendous praise for the diamond-rich nation.

While there is work yet to be done, Majoor said the peacekeeping efforts had stabilized the nation. During Majoor’s visit, he met with newly elected President Ernest Bai Koroma, vice president Sam Sumana, and members of Parliament.

Discussions centered upon development of the Peacebuilding Commission Cooperation Framework, an agreed-to plan of commitments and priorities on such issues as good governance, justice, security sector reform, and youth employment.

Majoor also stressed that the Commission, which was established in December 2005 to help countries recovering from war avoid a relapse, would assist in tackling reform in key areas such as the justice sector, governance, human rights, the security sector, youth employment, civil service, and capacity building.

“In all these the [the Commission] can play a critical role to assist the new government,” Majoor said.

Characterizing the recent presidential and parliamentary elections as a “turning point,” he commended the country’s police and military for their role in providing security and said they must be bolstered to continue performing their duties.

The Commission brings together key actors, including international donors, international financial institutions, national governments from focus countries, troop contributor countries, U.N. bodies and civil society representatives, to promote a common approach to helping a country emerge from conflict.

Sierra Leone was selected as one of the first two countries on the agenda of the Commission, and it has begun received money already from the related Peacebuildng Fund, a multi-year standing trust fund that has an initial funding target of $250 million and so far has collected deposits worth almost $144 million from donor countries. The other country selected by the Commission was Burundi.

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