African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Posted by African Press International on May 10, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Dmitry Titov told the United Nations Security Council Wednesday that Sierra Leones prospects of moving forward and boosting its socio-economic situation is hopeful.

However, he added that this will require the government making tough economic and political decisions and implementing policies that promote transparency and accountability.

According to the senior United Nations peacekeeping official, it will require sacrifice and patience on the part of Sierra Leoneans as the country continues its journey towards full economic recovery.

Mr. Titov, who briefed the Council on the work of the UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), also added that the political and security situation in the West African nation is generally calm, but pointed out that there have been several violent incidents involving supporters of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).

In July, the country will hold local council elections, which he characterized as another major step towards enhancing its democratic process.

Mr. Titov also warned that tensions between APC and SLPP supporters will rise in the run-up to the polls, and noted that UNIOSIL is working with many groups on the ground for a peaceful election.

He added that surging prices of staple commodities and fuel have led to there being little in the way of progress in Sierra Leones socio- economic condition, voicing concern that dissatisfaction over soaring prices could lead to unrest.

The Assistant Secretary-General cautioned that gains made in rebuilding the country could be reversed if more employment opportunities are not generated for young people.

Meanwhile, the human rights situation has seen an improvement, given the bolstered respect for civil and political rights and the passing of legislation on womens and childrens rights.

However, efforts to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation are still very slow, Mr. Titov told the Council.

On the Peace Building Commission (PBC) established in December 2005 to help countries recovering from war avoid a relapse into violence and chaos he observed that the adoption of a PBC framework for Sierra Leone has injected fresh impetus into the peace consolidation process.

In his most recent report on the UN mission, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that UNIOSIL will withdraw in September and recommended that it be replaced by a UN integrated peace building office, to be known as UNIPSIL, which holistically addresses the political, economic and peace building challenges facing the country.

UNIOSIL was set up in 2006 to help the government consolidate the countrys hard-won peace following a brutal, 11-year conflict, and to tackle a wide range of challenges related to good governance, security, human rights and development.

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African Press International – api

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