Adress bu H.E. the ambassador of france to Sierra leone on the coccasion of celebration of the bastille day - 16 Juin 2008
Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
My lord Chief Justice,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Your Excellencies, my fellow Ambassadors and Members of the Consular Corps,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mes chers compatriotes,
Let me begin by saying what a great and real pleasure I have to be in Freetown where unfortunately I do not come so often as I would wish, especially in these last months. The French National day has however given me this opportunity and I am delighted to be here. Thank you everyone for coming to grace this occasion. I bid you all welcome to this July 14, 2008.
Towards the political observer, the diplomat or the representative of a friendly country, Sierra Leone shows itself as a pleasant and encouraging country which has rebuilt itself and stands up with success and determination.
I do not wish to go back to reiterate the past. Everybody knows the history of Sierra Leone, which ordeals it went through. I would like to speak of the recent years and of the landmarks which I have personally witnessed.
At the same time last year, Sierra Leone was preparing for the national elections. The atmosphere was electric, the country was mobilized. These elections were transparent and credible. They led to a change of power and were hailed by the international community for the exemplary nature in which they were conducted.
They provided an inspiring lesson in a world where the control and the attribution of power often give birth to difficulties, violence or instability. We are all aware of sufferings which other African countries this year have experienced, during manipulated electoral exercises.
11 days ago, on July 5th, Sierra Leoneans again voted to elect members of the local council. The rate of participation seemed to be disappointing, although the results are still being looked at. Be that as it may, these new elections, which took place without incident, indeed testify to the robust anchoring of institutions, to the culture and the exercise of democracy in Sierra Leone.
It is not only during an electoral period that the vitality of a democracy is tested but also in daily life. In this respect, the status of an opposition, the respect for its rights as well as the exercise of constructive and serious criticism takes on major importance. It is the responsibility of the Government as well as the opposition to stimulate contradictory debate within the natural forum of Parliament.
Regions with a measure of autonomy also constitute an essential theater for the democratic exercise, particularly because they are close to citizens and to their daily activities. The importance of this deepening of the process of decentralization cannot be underestimated.
President Koroma has launched a pro-active policy to put the country on track toward development. When security is restored and the Sierra Leonean reconciled to legitimate and effective institutions, then indeed will the main objectives for the country be set.
I am pleased to mention the restoration in a few months of the electrical supply in Freetown, after years of darkness. It speaks of a true success story, the happy results of which are evident to the population. This success must be added on, in the months and years to come, by the starting of the hydroelectric dam of Bumbuna and the realization of other projects which help so much to increase the capacity and the network.
The difficulties are still numerous and are further complicated by an unstable international economic environment. So, to the old structural problems which need answers and solutions more than ever (that is infrastructures, basic services, youth employment), are added the tensions caused by the escalation of oil prices and food products.
In these circumstances, good governance is all the more imperative. The new Authorities have made significant progress and deserve to be applauded. The drafting of a strategy to fight against corruption and the increase of the powers of the Anti corruption Commission, are very welcome.
The efforts as begun must be continued. There is no possible economic and social progress without a decrease in corruption and into the culture which carries this. There is also the important requirement of a more efficient administration. This is what will result in an attractive environment for business, conducive to foreign investments, which the country needs.
"Failure is not an option ". These were the strong words we heard from President Koroma, pronounced some months ago, as he took office. They are brave words, because the expectation is immense. They must now be put into effect.
The international community has been actively involved in partnership with Sierra Leone for these last ten years. It is naturally necessary to evolve this partnership, as the situation in Sierra Leone has indeed changed. But it is also necessary to preserve and bear it, assign to it new objectives.
In its way, Sierra Leone has been a model country for construction and for consolidation of peace. It is here that for the first time an integrated Office was created ; Sierra Leone is the first country registered in the diary of the United Nations Commission of consolidation of Peace ; and very soon one of the integrated offices for the consolidation of the Peace will replace UNIOSIL.
The assistance given by the United Nations and other partners of the country plays an invaluable role. It offers means and resources that Sierra Leone has to take for itself. Nevertheless, as I have already said on other occasions and now repeat, Sierra Leone has first to count on its own human and physical resources. It is the mobilization of these resources that will be more effective than any of those received from the outside world.
Our bilateral relations are still underdeveloped. They are not as high as our expectations. We believe that we can strengthen them.
Do not doubt my determination to tighten the links between our two countries. I request for the reopening of a French-Sierra Leonean Cultural Center, which will happen one day, I am convinced of it. I am also trying to encourage French companies to come to Sierra Leone and explore its market. In this optimism, I work towards having an economic delegation of French company managers here, by next autumn.
If France is little present and visible in a bilateral way, she remains extremely active through her multilateral contributions, especially through the European Union, the presidency of which it has taken for the next six months. You may be sure that within this framework, my country is mobilized and very aware.
Long live France ! Long live Sierra Leone ! Long live the Franco-Sierra Leone Friendship !
I thank you all, for your kind attention./.