Threats To Stability Remain In Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone’s Progress Has Been Solid But Threats To Stability Remain – Annan
Despite significant progress, Sierra Leone faces numerous threats to its stability as it continues on the path to recovery from the disastrous and brutal civil war that engulfed the country in the 1990s, according to a new report from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In a report to the Security Council issued today, the Secretary-General, who visited the country in early July, said he remained “reasonably optimistic” about prospects for long-term peace and economic recovery from the 10-year conflict, which began in 1991 and left thousands dead and many more with amputated limbs.
Mr. Annan noted that the transfer in June of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to The Hague to face war crime charges removed a major source of potential instability in Sierra Leone. He expressed concern, however, about several other factors.
“Currently, the most serious potential threats to the country’s stability emanate from domestic challenges, including the need to improve the general standard of living of the population, stimulate economic progress, step up anti-corruption efforts and address the issue of high unemployment, particularly of the youth,” he said.
The Secretary-General also expressed concern about the country’s political situation, as preparations get underway for elections to be held next July.
“There are also worrisome signs of growing intolerance among various political party leaders and their supporters, which portend acrimonious and potentially violent campaigns in the period leading up to the 2007 elections,” he said.
Mr. Annan noted that some parties and their supporters are reported to have declared certain areas “off limits” to opponents and that the Government had issued a directive requiring political parties to obtain permission from the police before holding meetings.
The Secretary-General said he plans to dispatch an electoral needs assessment mission to the country to meet with its Government and determine what type of assistance the UN, which currently has an Integrated Office in Sierre Leone (UNIOSIL), can provide. He also appealed to Member States to close the gap of $8 to $9 million in funding needed for the elections.