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'Era Of Hope' For Sierra Leone With New President

'Era of hope' for Sierra Leone as new President is inaugurated, says Ban Ki-moon

Declaring that "Sierra Leone faces an era of hope," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated Ernest Bai Koroma on his inauguration as the West African country's President but warned that the transition to peace, stability and lasting economic growth after years of civil strife will be difficult.

The United Nations remains committed to supporting Sierra Leone as it rebuilds its society, especially through the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by Carolyn McAskie, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, in Freetown, the national capital.

Sierra Leone is one of two countries - the other is Burundi - which is currently under consideration by the Commission, which was established a year ago to help countries emerging from conflict avoid sliding back into war or chaos.

Mr. Ban noted that "a peaceful and transparent election process" had led to Mr. Koroma becoming President in September after he won a run-off race. It was the first presidential election since UN peacekeepers left Sierra Leone in 2005. Since then the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) has been engaged in helping the fledgling democracy.

"With the elections successfully concluded, Sierra Leone faces an era of hope. The people are waiting to see tangible improvements in their lives. They are looking to their new Government to remain steadfastly committed to consolidating peace, ensuring sustained economic growth and healing ethnic and national wounds. The road ahead will not be easy."

Mr. Ban commended Mr. Koroma for his efforts so far to develop an inclusive Government, tackle corruption and expedite the delivery of basic services to the population. But he said this can only be the start of a long process.

"The Government will need to focus on strengthening governance, rule of law and the protection of human rights, stimulating economic growth, building the capacity of critical State institutions, delivering basic services, fostering national reconciliation and addressing the root causes of the country's conflict."


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