29 May 2009 A recent eruption of political violence in Sierra Leone reinforces the need for the international community’s continued support for the West African nation’s efforts to rebuild following a brutal 11-year civil war, according to a new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
President Ernest Bai Koroma and the top leaders of both the governing and main opposition parties were able to prevent a new round of conflict after clashes broke out, underlining the “fragile nature of the nascent democratic process in the country,” Mr. Ban wrote.
The governing All People’s Congress (APC) and the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) signed a joint communiqué on 2 April, which he characterized in his most recent report on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) as a “major event.”
The disturbances, had they devolved into a full-blown conflict, could have heightened regional divisions and increased identification of political parties with ethnic loyalties, he said.
The violence “served as a wake-up call for the Government and people of Sierra Leone on the critical challenges that require urgent and continued attention,” the report noted.
“Against this backdrop, the determined manner with which Sierra Leone overcame its recent political crisis was all the more laudable,” the Secretary-General said, commending the nation’s resolve to overcome differences rather than relenting to attacks.
Further, Mr. Ban wrote, its recent actions have set an example for other countries in the sub-region experiencing similar upheavals.
He expressed concern that the current global financial crisis could dampen international assistance to Sierra Leone in the coming years, calling on nations to continue their support for the country’s peacebuilding endeavours.
Last August, the Security Council authorized the creation of UNIPSIL to replace the UN political office in the country, known as UNIOSIL, in a unanimously adopted resolution, which also gave the new structure an initial mandate of 12 months.
UNIPSIL, which works closely with the UN Peacebuilding Commission, is tasked with providing political support to national and local efforts for identifying and resolving tensions and threats of potential conflict, whatever the source. It also monitors and promotes human rights, democratic institutions and the rule of law, including efforts to counter transnational organized crime and drug trafficking.
Sierra Leone is one of the first two countries, along with Burundi, to receive support from the Commission, which was established in 2005 to help post-conflict countries determine the priority areas for rebuilding out of the vast array of challenges they face.
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