COVID-19 VACCINE CARRIES PROFOUND FEELINGS OF CHINA TOWARDS SIERRA LEONE

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-SAYS Chinese Ambassador

DR. SAMURA KAMARA -ENGAGES YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FOR PEACE ORGANIZATION

The leadership and membership of Youth Development for Peace  Organization from Peacock Farm,  Samura Town and its environs have interfaced with Dr. Samura Kamara.

During the meeting, leaders of the organization reported that they have engaged in a membership registration drive, voter education, propagating the message of Dr. Samura Kamara, holding engagement meetings. They also assured the Samura Kamara Campaigned that they will fully corporate in all matters around the progress and growth of Dr. Samura Kamara in becoming the Head of State.

Campaign Chairman, Lansana Fadika, commended  the Youth Development for Peace Organization on  their huge commitment to the to Samura Kamara aspiration and further encouraged all present to be courageous, hardworking and be in unity until we succeed together.

On his part, Dr. Sam Sesay, Senior Adviser to Samura Kamara, assured the visiting group of the Samura Kamara Campaign’s full cooperation. He acknowledged the fact that winning the Flag bearer race requires everyone’s effort. He therefore commended the visiting group for their membership registration drive. He also reminded them on the importance of mobilizing and protecting the vote going forward.

In his statement, Dr. Samura Kamara expressed his profound thanks and appreciation to the group for their efforts towards the journey. He further  emphasised that the APC is the only party that has the capacity and conscience to take the nation to its desired development destination. He then urged to be prepared for and be vigilant in protecting the party’s victory during elections. “Having a National ID, NCRA registration, NEC registration, protecting the vote among many other issues are all essential in making sure that we achieve the expected result”, urged Samura Kamara.  Dr. Samura Kamara also encouraged members of the Organization to continue to be in high spirits for the general good of Sierra Leone.

Mines Ministry & Minerals Agency Chart Road Map

Ibrahim Kanu(Bugalo

The Director General of the National Minerals Agency (NMA) Mr. Julius Daniel Mattai together with the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources has engaged and updated the general public on the activities taking place in the mining sector and the status of minerals in the country.

Mr Julius Daniel Mattai said the purpose of the meeting with the different sectors is to clarify on issues surrounding the mining sector in other for the least sierra Leonean to get the common and clear understanding of what is going on in the mining sector.

He explained the processes which they have implemented to bring the Ministry back to proper functions and effectiveness.

Mr Mattai said the ministry is very large and under its supervision are numerous Departments and Agencies. He also noted that they have engaged local communities and the government departments in telling them the role and responsibilities of the ministry.

 He continued that the ministry`s sectors are not working in isolation, he spoke on how the mining sector  would have to create funds for the monitoring of the facilities so that everything would be done properly.

He however said environmental issues and communities developmental issues confrontinting the Ministry is very challenging but added that as a regulatory sector they are determined to make the sector as a better attractive destination for mining investment.

He went further that the ministry is committed to transforming the minerals sector to guarantee good returns on investment, while at the same time ensuring that the people derive maximum benefits from the mineral wealth.

The Director said Sierra Leone has a long history of mining dating back to the 1930s and over the years several companies have successfully explored for and mined minerals such as diamonds, gold, bauxite, iron-ore,and rutile in significant quantities.

Mr Mattai explained that Sierra Leone is globally renowned for quality and quantity of our diamonds with over 20,000m2 of diamonds fields in the eastern, southern and northern regions of the country.

He said the country has one of the world`s largest deposits of natural rutile, he also mentioned that the country can boast of a jorc-compliant iron-ore resource of 12,800mt in just one part of the country with significant deposits in other areas. “The ministry currently has large scale mining operations for iron-ore, rutile and bauxite across the country producing millions of tons of these minerals annually” The Manager said.

He also said that they have for the first time conducted a countrywide airborne aeromagnetic and radiometric survey will be followed by airborne electromagnetic survey and later geological field mapping to enable us provide credible and reliable data to investors, as according to him the aim of the ministry is to cut down on the cost and time for mineral exploration by providing reliable geological data

He however stated that they are committed to providing sufficient guarantees and a business friendly environment characterized by predictable laws, security of tenure etc.

He concluded that the ministry invites everybody to take advantage of these opportunities and experience the ease of doing profitable mining in Sierra Leone.

In his key note address, the Minister of Mines and Mineral resources hon. Timothy kabbah is giving said that the Director General Mr. Julius Daniel mattai has said it all but added that the mining sector cannot be transformed without the help of everybody in the sector.

According to the Minister, the mining sector needs everybody to come on board and work for the good interest of the country and to promote development. He said that the mining sector has engaged stakeholders, community people, chiefs and government departments so as accomplish the role of the ministry in these areas.

He concluded by thanking everybody and said that the doors of the ministry are open to everyone who want to access information and urged all and sundry to work together to develop the country.   

Sierra Leone Gets Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine

The Government of the People’s Republic of China has Thursday, 25 February 2021 donated 200,000 doses of SonoPham COVID-19 Vaccine and 201,600 pieces of disposable needles and syringes to the Government of Sierra Leone.

The COVID-19 donated items arrived at the Lungi International Airport by chartered flight which followed the handing over of the items.

The first batch of COVID-19 from the People’s Republic of China to the people of Sierra Leone reflects the long term traditional friendship and deep mutual trust between the two countries.

According to the statement the vaccine will play an important role in Sierra Leone’s driven to prevent and contain the COVID-19 Epidemic in Sierra Leone.

Since the inception of the COVID-19 in Sierra Leone China has played a pivotal role to support the Government of Sierra Leone to fight this deadly diseases.

See press statement below from the Ministry of Health and sanitation.

US State Department accusation of China ‘genocide’ relied on data abuse and baseless claims by far-right ideologue

The Trump and Biden administrations have relied on the work of a right-wing religious extremist, Adrian Zenz, for their “genocide” accusation against China. A close review of Zenz’s research reveals flagrant data abuse and outright falsehoods.

Both President Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have endorsed former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s last-minute accusation of “genocide” against the Muslim Uyghur population in China’s Xinjiang province. But an investigation of published work by the researcher Pompeo relied on to level his genocide allegation reveals a pattern of data abuse and fraudulent assertions that substantially undermines the incendiary charge.

The US government’s accusation of genocide against China stems from a single source: a June 2020 paper by Adrian Zenz, a right-wing German researcher affiliated with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and neoconservative Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC.

Articles by the Associated Press, CNN, and BBC also relied on Zenz’s article to claim that plunging Uyghur birth rates and the application of birth control measures in Uyghur counties of the Xinjiang region were proof of a policy of “demographic genocide.”

Just days after the publication of Zenz’s paper, Pompeo issued a statement denouncing China’s alleged policy of “forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning,” personally crediting “Adrian Zenz’s shocking revelations.”

Biden backed the the genocide charge last August when it first appeared in a flurry of media reports. His campaign spokesman told Politico, “The unspeakable oppression that Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China’s authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms.” Blinken, for his part, declared at his first press conference as secretary of state that he agreed genocide has been committed against the Uyghurs.

While Zenz’s employers describe him as “one of the world’s leading scholars on People’s Republic of China government policies towards the country’s western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang,” he is, in fact, a far-right Christian fundamentalist who has said he is “led by God” against China’s government, deplores homosexuality and gender equality, and has taught exclusively in evangelical theological institutions.

Lyle Goldstein, a China specialist and research professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department of the Naval War College, told The Grayzone that Zenz’s labeling of the Chinese approach to the Uyghurs as “demographic genocide” is “ridiculous to the point of being insulting to those who lost relatives in the Holocaust.”

Goldstein said the Chinese approach to Xinjiang “is a more repressive posture than we would like, but it sure isn’t genocide.”

Moreover, a careful review of Zenz’s research shows that his assertion of genocide is contradicted by flagrant data abuse, fraudulent claims, cherry-picking of source material, and propagandistic misrepresentations.

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Adrian Zenz Congress Uyghurs China

Adrian Zenz testifying before Congress on December 10, 2019

Genocide or equal treatment in family planning policy?

In Adrian Zenz’s 2020 paper for the Jamestown Foundation, he boasted that his findings “provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

Zenz was referring Article 2 (d) of that Convention: “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” But Article II qualifies the relevant acts as those “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”

But “preventing births” by itself cannot be evidence of alleged genocide without evidence of intent to destroy the group in question. Otherwise, any birth control program provided to an ethnic group would be prima facie evidence of a policy of genocide against the group.

Zenz argued that population control measures applied to Uyghurs could be branded as “genocidal” because population growth rates fell by 84 percent in the two largest Uyghur prefectures between 2015 and 2018, and declined further in several minority regions in 2019. But more complete statistics that Zenz cited in his report, and data that he conveniently omitted, contradicted his conclusion.

Zenz provided statistics revealing that between 2005 and 2015, Uyghur population growth in Xinjiang was 2.6 times higher than that of Han Chinese in the Xinjiang region. (The chart displayed in his report is below).

Both official Chinese figures and Zenz agree that the Uyghur population in Xinjiang increased significantly between 2010 and 2018.

Left: Zenz’s graph on population changes in Xinjiang. Right: Official Chinese statistics on the same issue.

Zenz’s figures shows an increase in Uyghur population from 10.1 million to 11.8 million during the 2010 and 2018, while Chinese government figures demonstrate an even larger increase from 10.1 to 12.7 million. That means the Uyghur population in Xinjiang grew by a staggering 25.04 percent.

Zenz shows the Han Chinese population rising from 8.5 to 9.8 million during the eight-year period, while Chinese government figures show a smaller increase in Han population from 8.8 million to 9 million.

Both the rapid surge in Uyghur population growth rates and the increased margin of the Uyghur majority over the Han population of Xinjiang in recent years are the result of the one-child policy imposed on Han Chinese couples by the Chinese government in 1979.

According to China specialist Martin King Whyte, the one-child policy was accompanied by a long-term pattern of abuses in its implementation, including “intrusive menstrual monitoring, coerced sterilizations and abortions, staggering monetary fines for ‘over-quota’ births, smashing of furniture and housing of those who resist and withholding registration for babies born outside the plan.”

Uyghur families, however, were exempted from the one child policy. Urban Uyghur couples were allowed to have two children, and rural Uyghur couples three. In practice, moreover, rural Uyghurs often had large families, with as many as nine or ten children in some cases, as even Zenz acknowledged. 

In 2015, the Chinese government announced a relaxation of the decades-long one-child limit on urban Han couples, allowing urban couples to have two children and rural families to have three. In Xinjiang, where birthrates routinely exceeded previously established limits, local officials urged the equal application of family planning policy between Han and Uyghur couples.

In July 2017, Xinjiang’s regional government ended the exemption on the old child limits for Uyghurs. Uyghur couples were thus expected to follow the same limitations recently imposed on Han couples: two children in urban areas and three in rural regions.

As the Chinese government has freely acknowledged, a 5 percent decrease in the birth rate in Xinjiang between 2017 and 2018 was the result of the equal enforcement of family planning policy across ethnic lines.

While eliding this point, Zenz also overlooked the fact that China’s overall birthrate has fallen precipitously in recent years across the demographic spectrum as the population ages and contraceptives become more widely available through programs like the government’s annual free distribution of one billion condoms. For example, in the city of Guangzhou, which is far from Xinjiang, the rate of newborn babies has plunged to its lowest point in a decade.

Cherry-picking and distorting source material, framing free healthcare as genocide

Also in 2017, China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission announced a $5.2 billion healthcare investment in Xinjiang, stating its intention to strengthen a brittle health infrastructure in impoverished, rural areas of the region.

According to Chinese government statistics, maternal and infant mortality rates in Xinjiang were nearly halved by 2018, while average life expectancy rose as a result of increased public health investments. A 2019 study by Lancet described China’s improvement of maternal health and infant mortality reduction as a “remarkable success story.” Another study that year by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences arrived at a similar conclusion. How these positive health indicators could serve as proof of genocide was left unexplained by Zenz, who simply omitted the numbers from his report.

Throughout his paper, Zenz framed the expansion of public healthcare services in Xinjiang as evidence of a genocide in the making. For example, Zenz pointed to a photograph of Uyghur residents of rural regions of Xinjiang receiving medical consultation at a free health clinic as part of an “effort to enforce the thorough implementation of increasing intrusive birth control efforts.”

However, the photograph depicted an elderly couple who were far too old to have children, and was dated May 2017 – months before the Chinese government announced an end to the child limit exemption for Uyghurs.

Left: Adrian Zenz’s creative interpretation of a photo showing an elderly couple receiving a free health check-up. Right: The original source of the photo.

According to the original source of the photograph, an article in China News, it depicted a regiment from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps deploying to a rural province as part of the government’s poverty eradication program. There, the doctors “measured blood pressure, electrocardiogram, blood sugar, height and weight for poor villagers who came to see the doctor for free… More than 200 poor people were diagnosed and treated, and more than 100 common drugs were distributed on the spot.”

At another point in his paper, Zenz cited an August 2019 document from Xinjiang’s Wenquan County government office as evidence of “greater pressure to implement intrusive birth control methods.” He referred to a single mention of 468 “birth control surgeries,” which could alternately be translated as “family planning operations,” but provided no evidence that the operations were coercive. Revealingly, Zenz omitted the next line, which expressed satisfaction with a birth rate of 8.11 percent.

Zenz proceeded to ignore the rest of the document, which touted the increased provision of free mental health services, polio vaccinations and AIDS prevention treatment as well as poverty alleviation measures and the construction of new hospitals and medical clinics for the population of Xinjiang.

How did a massive investment to improve the health of previously neglected rural communities fit within the framework of a policy of genocide? Once again, Zenz avoided the issue entirely.

Inventing statistics, spinning tales to frame the official enemy

Among Zenz’s “major findings” was the claim that “80 percent of all net added IUD placements in China… were performed in Xinjiang, despite the fact that the region only makes up 1.8 percent of the nation’s population.”

According to the 2019 China Health Statistics Yearbook published by the National Health Commission – the original source of Zenz’s claim – the number of new IUD insertion procedures in Xinjiang in 2018 accounted for only 8.7 percent of China’s total. So Zenz’s “major finding” appeared to be off by a factor of 10, a staggering error that substantially undermined the explosive quality of his argument.

The relevant sections of the statistical yearbook Zenz relied on was translated by a native Chinese speaker and are displayed below. A full translation of the chart can be viewed here, and an archive of the entire statistical yearbook is here.

When Zenz attempted to defend himself against accusations of cooking statistics on birth control surgeries in Xinjiang, he ultimately cast further doubt on the quality of his research. Responding to a Chinese academic critic, he claimed that he had calculated Xinjiang’s 239,457 new net IUD insertions (devices added minus those removed) as 80% of the national total in 2018.

However, Henan province registered 206,281 new net IUD insertions, or 69%, in 2018. Hebei, meanwhile, registered 61%, amounting to a total of 210% of national net insertions. These numbers only make sense when calculated alongside provinces like Jiangsu and Yunnan that had more removals (-60% and -54%, respectively) than total national net insertions. By relying on such a bizarre metric, Zenz appeared to have attempted a cynical statistical sleight of hand to paint Xinjiang as a hotbed of birth control surgery.

In perhaps the most unintentionally absurd assertion in an article filled with them, Zenz asserted that the Chinese government inserted between 800 and 1400 IUDs per capita each year in Xinjiang. Which meant that each woman in the province would have had to have undergone anywhere from 4 to 8 IUD surgeries every day. With so much time spent on the operating table every day, it’s a wonder that anyone in Xinjiang could find time to work, or eat.

 

Elsewhere in his paper, the daffy data diver asserted that 73.5 percent of married women of childbearing age in Xinjiang’s Kuqa County had IUDs fitted between 2017 and 2018. In a footnote, Zenz claimed, “This data comes from a cache of over 25,000 local government files obtained by the author in 2019.” The article he provided as accompaniment, however, was written by himself for the Jamestown Foundation and contained no data on IUD operations in Kuqa County.

Zenz attempted to pad his shaky statistics with dramatic testimony from US-based Uyghur exiles who have been cultivated by the US State Department. The narratives of these exiles have been vehemently challenged by family members in Xinjiang, as well as by vocational center graduates and local doctors, who produced official hospital documents purporting to disprove their allegations.

In his paper, Zenz cited a September 2019 article in the US government-run outlet, Radio Free Asia, containing testimony by a US-based exile, Tursunay Ziyawudun, who claimed she was forcibly sterilized and physically tortured in a Chinese internment center.

However, in February 2020, Ziyawudun changed her story entirely, telling Buzzfeed: “I wasn’t beaten or abused. The hardest part was mental. It’s something I can’t explain — you suffer mentally. Being kept someplace and forced to stay there for no reason.”

Ziyawudun changed her story again after being relocated to the US and cultivated by the US government-funded Uyghur Human Rights Project. This February, she told the BBC and CNN that she was gang raped by guards in an internment camp. The BBC report relied on none other than Zenz as its expert voice on China’s supposed policy of “systematic rape.”

Zenz’s propagandistic framing, cherry-picking of original source materials, and cooking of statistics fit a pattern of misrepresentation on display in a December 2019 paper he authored for a NATO-linked publication alleging a Chinese policy to force members of the Uyghur minority into “slave labor.”

As Ajit Singh reported for The Grayzone, Zenz painted an article about a government program providing Uyghur women with free childcare as evidence of forced family separation – a “shocking example of this ‘liberation’ of women from their children,” he called it. Zenz conveniently omitted a quote in the article from a Uyghur woman who said the free childcare “solved [her] problem, now there are people who take care of my children, I can in peace go to work… very convenient.”

Because Zenz’s papers are published by a neoconservative think tank that has functioned as a US intelligence cut-out, they are not peer reviewed by credentialed academics. But they do not appear to have undergone much fact-checking either. This has left Zenz exposed to embarrassing scrutiny from the internet, and forced him to edit out errors after questioning from random Twitter users:

While it’s hard to understand how Zenz has gotten away with so much statistical malpractice, a look at his background helps explain his ideological motivations, and provides important context on his negative focus on the application of birth control. He is an anti-abortion, anti-feminist Christian fundamentalist captivated by End Times theology, and has said that god has led him on a mission against the Chinese government.

Adrian Zenz’s first book, co-authored with Marlon Sias, condemns gender equality, homosexuality, and socialism as works of the Antichrist

An anti-gay, anti-abortion Christianist dedicated “led by god” against China

The BBC based its June 2020 report alleging “forc[ed] birth control to suppress population” on Zenz’s work, referring to him as a “China scholar” without mentioning his employment by right-wing institutions in Washington or his own hyper-ideological views.

Like the BBC, an AP report relied entirely on an advance copy of Zenz’s paper, but provided no background and whitewashed his right-wing politics or institutional affiliations. A CNN story published a month later and a CNN follow-up in September 2020 on alleged Chinese forced sterilizations in Xinjiang also relied on Zenz without mentioning his political background.

As The Grayzone has reported, Zenz is a far right Christian fundamentalist who claims to have been “led by god’ to defeat the Communist Party of China. While he is almost invariably touted in Western media as a leading scholar on China, he described himself in 2015 as “a lecturer in empirical research methods at a Christian university.” As late as 2018, in fact, Zenz was listed as a faculty member of the European School of Culture and Theology at Columbia International University in Korntal, Germany.

Zenz’s first published book, “Worthy to Escape: Why all believers will not be raptured before the Tribulation,” he and his co-author, Marlos Sias, urged Christian believers to subject unruly children to “scriptural spanking,” condemned homosexuality as “one of the four empires of the beast,” and argued that Jews who refuse to convert to evangelical Christianity during the End Times would either be “wipe[d] out” or “refined” in a “fiery furnace.”

In the End Times tome, Zenz predicted that the coming fall of capitalism would bring to power the Antichrist within a “few decades.” He identified the force that “will usher the Antichrist into power” as “the economic and financial fall of ‘Babylon,’ with ‘Babylon’ symbolically representing the world’s global economic system (capitalism).”

Like other born-again evangelicals, Zenz is also fiercely anti-abortion and opposed to gender equality. “Another important God-given authority structure that Satan is attacking through the postmodern spirit is that of gender authority structures,” Zenz wrote. “Through notions of gender equality […] the enemy is undermining God’s unique but different role assignments for men and women.”

Zenz currently serves as a fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a Washington DC-based right-wing lobbying front born out of the National Captive Nations Committee. The latter group was founded by Ukrainian nationalist Lev Dobriansky to stifle any efforts at diplomacy with the Soviet Union. Its co-chairman, Yaroslav Stetsko, was a leader of the OUN-B militia that fought alongside Nazi Germany during its occupation of Ukraine in World War II.

In April 2020, Zenz’s employer listed all global deaths from Covid-19 as “victims of communism,” blaming each of them on the Chinese government.

Zenz is also employed by the Jamestown Foundation, a neoconservative think tank in Washington DC founded as the outcome of efforts by Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director, William J. Casey, to establish an extra-governmental channel to pay Soviet dissidents. In the past, Jamestown leadership has spearheaded lobbying efforts to support separatism in Chechnya.

In their apparent zeal for escalation with China, mainstream Western outlets like the AP, BBC and CNN have accepted Zenz’s dubious research as absolute fact, while ignoring his background as a religious extremist who is ideologically committed to regime change in Beijing. If Biden and Blinken formally adopt the Trump administration’s “genocide” designation, they will have effectively endorsed Zenz’s shoddy and propagandistic research as well.

The genocide accusation may appeal to the Biden administration as a useful geopolitical cudgel, as well as a defense against right-wing Republic attacks painting the new president as “soft on China.” But it will only strengthen the hand of hardliners determined to provoke a dangerous and potentially catastrophic confrontation with a fellow nuclear-armed power.

“The United States has set out to vilify China,” former US Deputy Chief of Mission in Beijing and Assistant Secretary of Defense Chas Freeman told The Grayzone, and the accusation of Uyghur genocide “is the perfect issue with which to do so.” 

Freeman opined that the Chinese “seem to be doing many cruel and counterproductive things in Xinjiang.” However, he cautioned against taking the genocide accusation at face value: “In the current atmosphere, we should be especially skeptical about any and all assertions by people who have become part of the current anti-China campaign in the West. Before we condemn, we should be sure of our facts.”

The Jamestown Foundation did not respond to a request for comment on Zenz’s research.

ADRIAN ZENZBIDEN ADMINISTRATIONCHINADONALD TRUMPETIMEVANGELICALSGENOCIDEJAMESTOWN FOUNDATIONJOE BIDENMIKE POMPEORIGHT-WING EXTREMISMTONY BLINKENTRUMP ADMINISTRATIONUYGHURSVICTIMS OF COMMUNISMVICTIMS OF COMMUNISM MEMORIAL FOUNDATIONXINJIANG

GARETH PORTER

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

MAX BLUMENTHAL

The editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican Gomorrah, Goliath, The Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

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Description: Description: ImageFAO supports Government  In antimicrobial resistance     The governance structure will provide technical oversight during the National Strategic Plan for combating Antimicrobial resistance 2018-2022.                                                                                                                                            Makeni City – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) have supported the Government of Sierra Leone to establish a One Health governance structure for Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and Antimicrobial use (AMU) surveillance in the human and animal health sectors.   AMR  poses a significant global health threat to human and animal health. It is estimated that, by 2050, ten million people will die every year due to AMR , unless a global response to this  problem is mounted. In response to this threat, the Government of Sierra Leone recognized AMR as a priority agenda, and developed a National Strategic Plan for combating Antimicrobial resistance 2018-2022. To implement the interventions stated in the strategic plan, a strong One Health governance structure/mechanism for coordinating national efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance as outlined in the objective one of the strategic plan has been established. The created governance mechanism comprises of a National Multi-sectoral Coordinating Group (NMCG) and Technical Working Groups (TWGs) with clear Terms of Reference (ToRs) to provide technical oversight during implementation of the strategic plan.   With funding support from the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), under its Fleming Fund (FF), FAO is the lead grantee for the animal health component of the Fleming Fund Sierra Leone Country Grant for AMR, whereas WHO is the lead implementing agency for the public health component of the grant. FAO and WHO supported the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Ministry of Environment (MOE)/Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen the NMCG, which is expected to oversee and coordinate AMR related activities in all sectors to ensure a systematic, comprehensive approach. Dr Joseph Kanu, the Deputy Program Manager for surveillance and National AMR Focal Person, at the opening ceremony of the workshop, emphasized “the importance of establishing a governance structure for AMR and it’s linkage to the National One Health Platform (NOHP). He said “The governance structure is essential to tackle AMR, with a weak governance structure it will be hard to address the AMR challenges”. He further stated that, “NMCG is expected to lead facilitation and coordination of a national response to the threat of AMR. It should be multisectorial with representation from across all the sectors from human, animal and environmental health”. The NMCG was established in 2017  but had never been formalized. The meeting agreed on the organogram and developed Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the NMCG.   . Dr. Germain Bobo, Country Team Leader for FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) said, “No one person, organization, or sector can address issues at the animal-human-environment interface alone, including AMR. By promoting collaboration across all sectors, a One Health approach can achieve the best health outcomes for people, animals, and plants in a shared environment”. He further highlighted the activities under the animal health component of the Fleming Fund country grant for AMR which includes a situational analysis of AMR/AMU in food animals and development of a national surveillance plan for AMR in animal health.   According to the WHO Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Lead, Anna Maruta, “The governance structure is essential to tackle AMR, and the scope should be broad enough to address all five strategic objectives of the global action plan, prioritizing activities in a step-wise approach”. She further added that, “the NMCG must be appropriately integrated and have clearly defined roles and responsibilities in the existing health system, public health and disease-specific programmes, animal health and production, the food sector and environmental initiatives”.       The meeting deliberated and agreed on the One Health governance structure for AMR and linked the proposed structure to the existing and operational Sierra Leone structure at the One Health Coordination Committee level and will be supported by a secretariat to be funded by WHO.    Establishment of the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) for AMR/AMU Below the NMCG, the One Health AMR Technical Committee was established with three TWGs to lead various thematic areas as follows; (i) surveillance and laboratory, (ii) education and research, and (iii) AMR stewardship TWGs. Their ToRs have been developed that outline their roles and responsibilities with membership defined.   The Fleming Fund Country Grant for Sierra Leone focuses on setting the foundations for AMR and AMU surveillance in the human and animal health sectors. The grant will run for 13  months, to further support One Health approach for AMR surveillance, the   situational analysis of antibiotic use in food animals in the country and the development of  the national surveillance plan for AMR in animal health.     Find out more on AMR www.flemingfund.orghttp://www.fao.org/antimicrobial-resistance/en/     For more information, please contact: Germain Bobo Country Team Leader FAO Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD)  Sierra Leone Email: [email protected]   Yanira Santana Regional Communications and Outreach Bureau FAO ECTAD Regional West and Central Africa Email : [email protected] Phone : +221 33 823 29 14   Uzman Unis Bah Communications Specialist  FAO Sierra Leone Email : [email protected] Phone : +23275347349  
 

CHINA IS NOT A FOE, BUT A TRUE FRIEND TO SIERRA LEONE…

By Soko Kai-Samba, National Secretary General, Sierra Leone China Friendship [email protected]

L-R: President Xi Jinping of China and President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone.

 

On Thursday, February 26, 2021 Sierra Leone received a consignment of 200,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to support the Sierra Leone’s vaccination campaign. The vaccine comes at a time when the Government is contemplating on the need to vaccinate about 1.6 million of her vulnerable citizens. In fact, Health authorities in Freetown have said the vaccine will “play an important role in preventing and containing the COVID-19 in the country.” Unfortunately, the moment the news of the said consignment was aired by the AYV Television in Freetown, some social media critics and other armchair patriots opened a bazaar to peddle their myopic thinking about the COVID-19 vaccines. Irrespective of the sincerity of the Chinese Government to give a helping hand to the people and Government of Sierra Leone, these critics went out of their way to insinuate that the Chinese government is trying to spread the corona virus through the said vaccination programme. I am aware of some conspiracy theories about the pandemic and the use of the vaccine such as those from Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of the Christ Embassy IN Nigeria, President John Magufuli of Tanzania, Minister Louis Farrakhan of the USA, President John Mahama of Ghana, Former Vice President Dr. Nevers Mumba of Zambia and other eminent opinion leaders across the globe. And I think these critics are inciting other people based on these conspiracy theories. But their argument begs the questions, what evidence do they have for such presumptions? What bad things have happened to other people who have used the vaccine elsewhere? Why are other African countries clamoring for the vaccine? These criticisms are very much unfair, not only to the Chinese government who have used their country’s taxpayers’ monies to support a needy country but to the majority of Sierra Leoneans who are interested and willing to be vaccinated against the dreadful pandemic. Come to think of it, nobody has said the vaccine is compulsory; that they will be enforcing it against the will of the people. In fact, this first consignment is primarily for Healthcare practitioners and the aged. I’m pretty sure our Health Authorities have done due diligence on the potency of the vaccine before sanctioning its importation into the country, so the fuss around the use of the vaccine is as unnecessary as it is as mischievous. Mark you these vaccines are currently being distributed in many other African countries including South Africa, Ghana and other our closest neighbour, the Republic of Liberia. Have we forgotten so soon that China was the first superpower country that came to the aid of this country during the Ebola epidemic? Has anybody ever complained about the drugs and equipment that were donated by the Chinese government during that Ebola scourge? Why do we want to castigate our most revered and sincere friends on the assumption of their detractors? Why not make reference to the 50 years of unbroken friendship between Sierra Leone and China rather than to the prejudices of other people against the Chinese people. Mark you “a reputation of a thousand years depends on the conduct of a single moment” (Seneca). China’s reputation in Sierra Leone has from the unset been always beyond expectation. China is a friend indeed…

To minimize such unwarranted comments therefore, the Author would encourage the Ministry of Health and Sanitation itself to take the leading role in popularizing the use of the said vaccine rather than leaving it entirely in the hands of the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Since the start of the marriage between the China and Sierra Leone, China has offered Sierra Leone so much in-kind and in-cash, including but not limited to Debt relief, Technical Assistance (training doctors and farmers, and educating Sierra Leonean students in China), Development assistance amounting to millions of dollars annually, War (providing military training, Patrol boats, Communications equipment, residential apartments for the Naval wing, military hardware etc.), and assistance to contain and end the Ebola scourge which included personal protective equipment, medical personnel, mobile laboratory and even money in cash. Bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, fishery, health and military has also been of reciprocal benefits to both countries. Why would a friend with such an impressive reputation with readily available tendencies to always give a helping hand wants to destroy a PEOPLE they have always supported? Thankfully, those unsubstantiated comments are coming from a few ignorant social media critics who do not understand what China has been and is still doing for the people of Sierra Leone. I only hope that those unfounded comments are not being machinated by those who see China as a threat at the global stage, otherwise why would a Sierra Leonean even imagine that China is a foe? The truth is, China is a friend indeed…

At a ceremony to open the Chinese-built Kambia bridge in 1978, Late President Siaka Stevens exclaimed “China is indeed our best friend”. At a reception organised in honour of the Minister of Forestry Yang Zhong in January 1986, Late President Joseph Momoh praised the Chinese government and thanked them for maintaining a win-win friendship with Sierra Leone. In 2004, Late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba at the State opening of Parliament appreciated the bilateral relation between Sierra Leone and China, and thanked the Chinese people for extending their hand of friendship to Sierra Leoneans. During his visit to China in 2017, former President Ernest Koroma said “China is a dependable friend to Sierra Leone”. In August 2018, thanking President Xi Jinping in Beijing for inviting him to China and the warm hospitality accorded him and his entire delegation, President Julius Maada Bio expressed gratitude to the Government and People of China for the numerous supports China has given Sierra Leone, especially in difficult times, and said China is a true friend with a difference. Clearly, one would see that since 1971 when Sierra Leone and China established bilateral relation, all the Presidents of the country have corroborated the fact that CHINA IS NOT A FOE, BUT A TRUE FRIEND TO SIERRA LEONE.

To this end I say to Sierra Leone ‘Jai Yo!’ 加油

IPRP Orders CDC of Moyamba District to Refund Aggrieved Bidder

By IPRP Communications Unit

The Independent Procurement Review Panel (IPRP) on Wednesday 17, February 2021 in a ruling ordered the Community Development Committee (CDC) which comprises Moyamba, Bonthe and Bo District Councils to refund DEE PEE Investment over Ninety Million Leones (Le 90, 000, 000) on allegations bordering on procurement irregularities.

An allegation was filed in by DEE PEE Investment against the CDC of the Moyamba District on December 15, 2020 to the IPRP.

The CDC was tasked with the responsibility of procuring for the service of consultant for the construction of 100 beds hospital in Ngolala Upper Banta Chiefdom Moyamba District as a corporate social responsibility project by VIMETCO Mining Company.

 The IPRP is a creature of section 65 (1) of the National Public Procurement Act No. 10 of 2016. The IPRP is charged with the responsibility to review complaints/appeals from dissatisfied bidders, private contractors about decisions of a procuring entity in the public procurement process.

Furthermore, the procurement process of Sierra Leone is governed by the NPPA Act No.10 2016 and the Regulation Statutory Instrument No.17 of 2016.

After the bid process, including bid opening, the Appellant (DEE PEE Investment) was issued a letter of regret on the 15th November, 2019 stating that his entity did not qualify as the most responsive bidder.

 According to section 64 (1) of the Public Procurement Act of 2016, the Appellant appealed internally asking for a review of decision by the respondent. The Panel realised that after the Appellant appealed to the CDC, there was no communication from the committee.

Moreover, the Panel was suspicious of foul play and that was a gross violation of the procurement processes and requirement for a technical advice to be sought in complex and technical procurement process.

According to the Appellant, the Respondent hired a consultant to oversee the procurement for a consultant in public procurement is a step meant to aid non-technical members of the procurement committee to reach a technical decision. In this case, a consultant was hired to advice on the technicality of the construction of a building contract under review.

The consultant, after having participated with the procurement committee recommended that the Appellant be awarded the contract. According to report dated 24th July 2019, the Appellant was the most responsive of the bidders. The consultant submitted his report to the Committee. The Committee rejected the report and rather set up a new Committee to da a procurement assessment

During the hearing to the appeal, the Panel noted that the contract had been awarded to KAM Enterprise (third party’s involvement) and this put the Panel in a difficult situation in reversing the entirety of the contract marred with procurement irregularities.

Moreover, when the third party has incurred financial loss and will be detrimental to their credit record with creditor.

In conclusion, after an enquiry of the matter, the entire procurement process was marred with procurement irregularities; the notification letter lacks sufficient details as required by law, it was wrong for the Committee to ignore the advice of the consultant and take upon themselves to sit on technical   project   without any specialist background.

After deliberation, the Panel therefore, ordered that the Appellant bid document purchasing cost be refunded in full in the sum of seventy Million Leones (Le 70,000, 000), and a compensation of Le 25,000,000 be paid to the Appellant for loss of income.

SIERRA LEONE ESTABLISHES DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH GRENADA

 

Sierra Leone Permanent Representative to the United Nations signed a Joint Communiqué with his counterpart at the Permanent Mission of Grenada to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries on Wednesday 24th February, 2021

 

The signing of the Joint Communiqué by His Excellency Alie Kabba will reinforce and develop mutually beneficial relations and strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

“Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the two states have agreed to establish diplomatic relations in accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961,” he said, adding that Sierra Leone’s diplomatic engagement in strategic geographical regions of the world aims at tapping into economic investment opportunities from such regions.

 

“It is envisioned that the establishment of diplomatic relations with countries in regions like South East Asia, South America and the Caribbean will open new investment windows for the growing economy of Sierra Leone,” said Alie Kabba

 

Her Excellency Ms. Keisha Aniya McGuire, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations, affirmed her country’s commitment to the Joint Communiqué as it will deepen bilateral ties in areas of shared interests as developing countries.

SLCAA and United ATS Discuss Capacity Building Partnership

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Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA) has on a ZOOM Video Conference discussed a possible partnership with the United Aviation Technology Services (ATS) in a bid to build staff capacity and improve on delivery.

Giving a brief history of the company and the work of the company, the Executive Manager of United ATS, Captain Reda El-Madbouly said that ATS was the first Egyptian Private Company to provide Aviation Technology Services in the Middle East and Africa, with over 18 years of history.

“United ATS plays an integral part in aviation safety by providing competent and professional services which comply with international standards. We had supported many private companies, governments and military authorities to optimize and enhance their Airspace and increase their capacity. We have also provided all related services for Airport certification,” he revealed.

Captain Reda El-Madbouly also stated that United ATS has been a regional supplier of high added-value Aviation Technology Services and that they are an Aviation Technology Leader in more than twenty countries. “We are open to any form of cooperation and support needed by the SLCAA,” he ended.

The SLCAA Director-General, Moses Tiffa Baio, in his response, extended thanks to the Sierra Leone Embassy in Egypt for facilitating the meeting between SLCAA and United, adding that the SLCAA was very much grateful for the assistance provided by the Sierra Leone Embassy in Egypt. He disclosed that this was not the first time the SLCAA had been in contact with United ATS.

 

“Before, Sierra Leonean personnel from both the Civil Aviation Authority and the Airports Authority have benefited from United ATS training, so what we are having today is just to make sure that we formalized our relationship for a very good technical corporation that will enhance the capacity of staff from both the SLCAA and SLAA,”DG Baio emphasized.

DG Baio further requested that the United ATS certificate issued by the Egypt Civil Aviation Authority should be accompanied by the other documents that are to be forwarded to SLCAA.

 

“Yes, we note that you are part of the Training plus Programme from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and you have received a certificate of recognition from other CAAs. Given that you are an agency within Egypt, we expect that you have a certificate from the Egyptian CAA,” DG Baio concluded.

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Egypt, HE Dr Morie Fofana, commended both the SLCAA and United ATS for such an initiative. He disclosed that it took the Embassy time to facilitate such a meeting.

“I hope that this discussion will move forward and it will certainly be a success story for both parties. As an Embassy, we will continue to give the necessary support as and when needed,” the Ambassador reiterated.

The meeting resolved that an MOU should be developed and later signed between the two organizations. 

 

MoPED UPDATES GENERAL PUBLIC

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Today, on our ” MoPED Update Series”, the Director of NGO Affairs, Eric Massally, engages partners to spearhead the revitalization of the National WASH Coordination platform, in a meeting held at the Ministry’s conference hall, Tower Hill.

This meeting brought together International and National NGOs, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation including the Ministry of Water Resources to better coordinate government of Sierra Leone’s priority of providing water, improved sanitation, and hygiene promotion to schools, hospitals, PHUs, and communities where the risk of contamination are considered high.

In his opening remarks, the Director, the NGO Director highlighted the essence of the meeting in revitalizing the national WASH Coordination platform, noting that as the Ministry responsible for all NGO operations it were their key mandate to strengthen coordination at all levels, including WASH activities.

Mr. Massally recalled the nationwide tour the Ministry undertook, few months ago, to establish the WASH coordination platforms at district level and to get the national platform strengthened and be inclusive. He said the rationale was to nurture the relationship between the national and district partners involved in WASH activities, ensuring that WASH activities were effective and efficient.

The Director of Environmental Health and Sanitation, MoHS, Dr. Alhaji Momodu Sesay said as WASH actors they were required to follow very serious and huge level of coordination to continue to remain vigilant and bracing themselves to ensure that WASH remains an effective means of preventing the spread of diseases, especially with the resurfacing of the Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea.

He said that he hoped the coordination meeting would be a demonstration of a beginning of better WASH intervention in the country.

Join the MoPED Social Media Pages on (Facebook and Twitter @moped2021) and get regular updates on this event and many other activities that promote development in Sierra Leone.

 

COUNCILOR HAWA DUMBUYA SETS TO CLINCH APC KAMBIA DIST. DEPT CHAIRPERSON

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The People’s Councilor of ward 194 from Constituency 058, Tonko Limba Chiefdom Kambia District, Councilor Hawa Dumbuya is receiving unflinching support from all structures of the party to clinch the All Peoples Congress party (APC) Kambia District Executive Deputy Chairperson position in the upcoming district executive elections in April this year.

This woman representing the chiefdom’s women in politics, three times councilor and current holder of Organizing Secretary position in the APC Kambia District executive is an Iron Lady who was known in all the constituencies in the district.

She has become a household name in the Kambia District Council having served and continues to serve in numerous committees and other capacities proofed her competency to serve in any position in the APC District Executive.

She made the declaration for the position of APC Kambia District Deputy Chairperson in a stakeholders’ meeting held in Madina Town on Sunday 21st February, 2021.

Speaking to this press the reason for aspiring for the position, Councilor Hawa Dumbuya disclosed that she wants to promote cohesion and unity within the party as well as providing functional assistance to the district chairperson.

She reiterated on his commitment for the establishment of marketable strategies how the party will reclaim all the four parliamentary seats and councilors seats lost to other parties in 2018 elections in the district.

Her popularity cuts across the youth, women, Muslims, Christians and potential delegates as the fittest person to serve as principal assistant to the District Chairperson come 2023 elections if elected.

Most of the hierarchy of the APC party would not hesitate to support the astute and dynamic politician whom many believe would help to galvanize and attract swing votes to other parties in the district in 2018 election to the party and win come 2023 general election.

With his vast experience in the politics of APC, many believe also that Councilor Hawa Dumbuya has the competence to attack his main SLPP opponents that will capture the interest of the voting population.

 

LEGAL LINK Flatters ACC Boss

Heartfelt Congratulations on your Anti-Corruption Championship award granted to you by the US Government

Let me on behalf of the Board, members of staff, legal interns and volunteers of LEGAL LINK express our greatest joy and delight over your recent recognition by the United States government as one of the 12 individuals across the globe worthy of receiving this year’s Anti- Corruption Championship Award.

No doubt, this global endorsement is indeed a testament to the fact that the Anti- Corruption fight under your leadership has not only been exceptional but also fundamentally rewarding.

While we do acknowledge that there may still be room for improvement, it is certainly indisputable that the Commission under your watch has witnessed outstanding succeses in geometric progression leap.

Listed below are a few examples:

The establishment of a special court on corruption, the passing of a robust Anti- corruption Amendment Act in 2019, the eligibility of Sierra Leone for an MCC Compact, the consistent high and positive ratings of the Commission by International Anti – graft ranking institutions and the global and African regional prominence secured by the ACC for Sierra Leone.

All of the above accolades and reforms have been galvanized under your leadership for which we remain grateful and proud as a nation.

To therefore downplay any of these successes and laurels would not only be unpatriotic and disconcerting but also suicidal at the very least.

Around the world, Corruption threatens security and stability, hinders economic growth, undermines democracy and human rights, destroys trust in public institutions; facilitate transnational crime, and siphons public and private resources.

It is therefore pivotal that we salute the courageous individuals who work tirelessly, often in the face of adversity and risk to their lives and families to defend transparency, combat corruption and ensure accountability and integrity in public life. 

Myself being a former state Prosecutor of the ACC, I am fully aware of the demands of the job as well as the risks and challenge that staff of the ACC grapple with on a daily basis as they pursue their Anti-Corruption mandate. You and all the members of staff at the ACC are indeed brave hearts, worthy of commendation.

By this global award therefore, we at LEGAL LINK are not only proud of you but remain hopeful that you and your dynamic team will be more incentivizing to continue to pursue the ideals of fairness, equity, good conscience, non- partisanship, non- selectivity and a deep sense of cosmic responsibility and moral rectitude in the discharge of your Anti-Corruption mandate within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

As you are aware, in recent times, the expectations at the domestic level regarding the fight against corruption remain on the balance and many are of the opinion that selective justice still looms large in the operations of the ACC.

It is imperative therefore that you try as much as possible to resist the temptations of selective justice in the exercise of your mandate so as to win not only laurels and accolades at the global and regional levels but also the hearts and minds and trust of all and sundry at the domestic level who may be quite crucial in winning the war against Corruption within the jurisdiction.

We wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.

Please accept the assurances of our highest regards.

 Minister of Planning Joins World Leaders to Call for Clean Energy in Fragile States

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the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai has, today, on behalf of HE President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, used the “Powering up energy investment in the Fragile States“ Call to Action launch to assert that investments in green technologies, such as solar mini-grids, are needed urgently to bring affordable and sustainable sources of electricity to millions living in countries affected by fragility.

The Call to Action online event, urges the private sector and aid agencies, supported by development finance institutions (DFIs), to work closely with governments of conflict-affected countries to design financing mechanisms, regulatory frameworks, and business models that can be deployed at scale to support investment in renewable energy.

The Minister said in many fragile and post-conflict settings, the provision of affordable energy meant investment in Human Capital Development, economic diversification, and job creation for the youth and women— all of which, he said, contributed to the Peace Dividend and continuous peace building.

“Sierra Leone and other g7+ member countries cannot achieve our goals of reducing poverty, creating jobs, and ensuring lasting peace and stability if a large portion of our populations cannot access electricity. Lack of access to sustainable and affordable electricity has made it difficult for our countries to attain economic self-reliance, a necessary condition for sustaining peace and to cope with a crisis such as COVID-19”, said Dr. Kai-Kai.

He also said people would be disproportionately affected by the negative effects of climate change, and that their governments were committed to supporting investments in clean energy in their countries.

The former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, in his statement, said of the 800 million people in the world without electricity, almost 90% of them lived in fragile states. He said global action on climate change was vital, and that they must not leave those in fragile countries behind.

Mr. Cameron noted that as host of this year’s *COP26* and *G7 Summit*, the UK, in particular, could send a strong signal to other donor countries and lead efforts to invest in local, renewable energy sources.

In her address, former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said the COVID-19 crisis had derailed decades of progress on extreme poverty and would continue to have devastating indirect effects on fragile states.

Ms. Sirleaf said a global, concerted push to invest in clean energy in fragile countries could transform lives by powering homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals— which, she said, would be critical for these countries to recover from the pandemic and chart a sustainable path to stability.

The Call’s current signatories include Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Former President of Timor-Leste José Ramos-Horta, and 40 other political leaders and organizations.

The Call is led by the Council on State Fragility— co-chaired by former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and former President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka— and the g7+, an intergovernmental organization bringing together 20 countries affected by conflict and fragility.

 

MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT

PUBLIC NOTICE

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has before now sent the approved 2020 Property Tax Guidelines to all Mayors, Chairpersons and Chief Administrators.

The guidelines clearly stated how property rates should be levied in order to bring clarity to the myriad of issues surrounding same. Among other things, it stated that every Council should:

Address any issues emanating from the arbitrary administration of rates by local councils

Determine the processes and procedures for property discovery in localities

Define the criteria for setting the review rates

Ensure fairness and equity in the administration of rates

Define/review criteria for exemption (reductions, exclusions, rebates, relief and omissions) for rates payment and list of exemptions

Inform and educate property owners on their liabilities for rate payments including processes in rates payment and collection

In view of the above, the public is hereby informed that dissatisfaction with issued demand notices/rates must be taken with individual councils, and that all councils are expected to review such complaints and maintain accurate database reflecting complaints and resolutions of the said issues.

 

2007 Elections Petition Rules don’t apply to Presidential Elections Petitions – Dr. Sylvia Blyden argues against striking out Petition at the Supreme Court

By Saffea Komba.

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR, whilst addressing the Supreme Court in the matter of her Elections Petition case against the 2018 election of President Bio, has argued against the striking out of her Petition. Representing herself in person, she was speaking on Wednesday February 17th 2021.

After three years of no movement on the court case, the Judiciary has finally commenced hearings on the matter on 2nd February 2021. The hearing started with lengthy submissions by the Lawyers for President Bio requesting for the Sylvia Blyden & Samura Kamara consolidated petitions, to be struck out on several technical grounds.

Veteran and highly respected legal luminary George Banda-Thomas is leading a team of eight brilliant lawyers on behalf of the President and the SLPP. They presented five grounds on which they asked the Supreme Court to throw the Petition out. The first of the grounds is that Blyden’s Petition did not abide by many of the rules of the 2007 Elections Petition Rules.

It was in answer to Ground 1 of the Motion of the President/SLPP that Dr. Sylvia Blyden used a three-pronged approach to make her submissions in a calm and humble manner.

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, with humility, presented her eloquent submissions on three points to counter all the many issues of non-compliance with the 2007 Elections Petition Rules.

Dr. Blyden submitted that no petitioner against a Presidential Election is bound to follow the Elections Petitions Rules of 2007. She said those 2007 Rules were only for challenging elections of Members of Parliament. She referenced legal authorities to back her position including a July 2018 Judgment by the Supreme Court that had stated presidential elections petitions are “radically different” from parliamentary elections petitions.

Two of the Judges who had delivered that judgment in 2018 are Hon. Justice N.C. Browne-Marke and Hon. Justice E. E. Roberts. Both of them are now part of the five judges hearing this matter. The other judges are Hon. Justice Alusine Sesay,  Hon. Justice Ivan Sesay and the Hon. Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards who is presiding over the matter.

Furthering her arguments on the radical difference between the two kinds of petitions, Dr. Blyden cited from the Sierra Leone Constitution.

“My Lords, the position of the Supreme Court on the radical difference between a Presidential Election Petition and a Parliamentary Election Petition is endorsed by the Sierra Leone Constitution. Under Section 78(5) of the Sierra Leone Constitution, a Parliamentary Elections Petition can never, ever, ever reach the level of the Supreme Court because the ceiling for legal redress available to Petitioners against Parliamentary Elections is the Appeals Court. In sharp contrast, a Presidential Elections Petition simply goes straight to the Supreme Court as per Section 45 of the Sierra Leone Constitution. This radical difference in how Petitioners access the Law Courts for the two kinds of petitions,  simply buttresses the position of the Supreme Court that the two kinds of Petitions are *radically different*”

Dr. Sylvia Blyden then cited another Supreme Court matter from the year 2012 in which Julius Maada Bio and John Oponjo Benjamin had petitioned the elections of President Ernest Koroma. She said the Supreme Court back then had “carefully refrained from asserting applicability of the 2007 Elections Petition Rules to hold in the Supreme Court”.

Dr. Blyden said even in the ongoing petition she had filed, the Supreme Court had again side-stepped to say the 2007 Elections Petition Rules applied to Presidential Elections. She read out a portion of the ruling of the Court which had consolidated her Petition with that of Dr. Samura Kamara. The portion she read out, had firmly refused to say the 2007 Elections Petition Rules applied to Presidential Elections Petitions.

After concluding that first prong of her arguments, Dr. Sylvia Blyden started off her second prong of arguments by showing how Section 124(2) of the 2002 Electoral Laws Act makes provision for the 1986 Elections Petition Rules to be the one that is applicable to Presidential Elections Petitions. She said even after the 2002 Electoral Laws Act got repealed by the 2012 Public Elections Act, the 2012 Act under Section 168(2), still made provision for ‘savings’ of that particular prescription of using the 1986 Elections Petition Rules for presidential election petitions and that such ‘savings’ will continue until such time as it was “expressly repealed”.

Dr. Blyden said that no such “expressed repeal” of that particular prescription has as yet occurred and so it stands firmly that the 1986 Elections Petition Rules are the rules to be applied for presidential elections petitions at the Supreme Court.

Speaking on the seeming revocation of the 1986 Rules in 2007, Dr. Sylvia Blyden submitted that “The attempt by the Rules of Court committee to purport to revoke the 1986 Elections Petition Rules is null and void”.

To show why she held the revocation to be null and void, Dr. Sylvia Blyden tendered the Statement delivered by the Honourable Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards on 29th January 2019 at the opening of the Commissions of Inquiry (COIs) to investigate the erstwhile APC-led Government.

“In this brilliant and inspirational statement, the Honourable Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, lectured us the people of Sierra Leone on the difference between a Primary Legislation enacted by a whole House of Parliament as against a Subsidiary Legislation created by a delegated committee such as the Rules of Court Committee,” Dr. Sylvia Blyden said.

Continuing, she asked the Judges to turn to Page 5 of the published Statement so as to see where the Chief Justice had emphatically underlined certain words to create emphasis.

The underline segment had said Rules of Court Committee can make rules but such rules are rules “which cannot in any way override the Primary Legislation”.

Dr. Blyden therefore submitted that the attempt by a Delegated Committee to revoke a Statutory Instrument that is already part of the expressed prescription of a still active Primary Legislation was null and void.

“My Lords, the Rules of Court committee cannot purport to over-ride any prescription of a primary legislation, enacted by a whole house of Parliament and which prescription is still in force, until such prescription is expressly repealed; so I humbly submit and hold that the purported revocation of Statutory Instrument Number 12 of 1986 as stated in Rule 54 of the Elections Petition Rules of 2007 is null, void and of absolutely no effect,” Dr. Blyden said.

Dr. Blyden then said even if the Supreme Court were to disagree with her and hold that the revocation was valid, still the Elections Petitions Rules of 2007 had no mandate over Presidential Elections Petition so there would “still remain a vacuum” in terms of which rules of procedure applied to Presidential Elections Petitions.

She furthered that it cannot even be automatic that Rule 98 of the Supreme Court rules applies to extent of using 2007 Elections Petition Rules at Supreme Court, just because it was currently applicable at the High Court.

She said there were many different kinds of Petitions that have various procedures and rules at the High Court including Divorce Petitions, Winding-Up Petitions, etc. etc. She said they were all “radically different” from a Presidential Elections Petition and so it will be unwise to say that Rule 98 automatically means using any of those procedures of “radically different” kinds of High Court Petitions.

“My Lords, can we use the procedural rules for hearing a Divorce Petition at the High Court to be the procedural rules for hearing a Presidential Election Petition at the Supreme Court? No, we cannot because they are two radically different Petitions. My Lords, can we use the procedural rules for hearing a Bankruptcy Petition at the High Court to be the rules for hearing a Presidential Election Petition at the Supreme Court? No, we cannot because they are two radically different petitions. So I submit that we cannot use the rules of a High Court Parliamentary Petition to hear a Presidential Elections Petition at the Supreme Court because they are two radically different Petitions,” Dr. Blyden submitted.

Dr. Blyden then blamed the country’s Rules of Court Committee for failing to make the required Rules for many proceedings since 1991 which was now a 30 year time frame. She asked the Supreme Court not to punish Sierra Leonean petitioners from exercising their right to petition simply because the Rules of Court committee has not yet made required Rules for proceedings in a presidential election petition. She again cited from the Statement of the Chief Justice at the opening of the COIs to show absence of rules cannot inhibit a procedure from being heard.

Dr. Sylvia Blyden then proffered that given the tremendous powers of the Supreme Court, in the absence of any such rules, the vacuum can be cured by the Supreme Court using its powers under Rule 103 of the Supreme Court Rules to direct the way forward.

The Supreme Court judges keenly listened and interjected several times with questions which Dr. Sylvia Blyden handled with dexterity in a manner that showed she had a grasp of many of the country’s laws around Elections and a good grasp of the Sierra Leone Constitution. She was calm and responded with humility and highest respect for the five Judges.

In sharp contrast to the calmness with which Dr. Sylvia Blyden made her submissions, the lawyers for President Bio, in persons of Lawyer Musa Mewah Esq. and Lawyer George Banda-Thomas Esq. had to be advised by the Judges to keep their cool when they several times stood up to strongly interrupt Dr. Sylvia Blyden as she calmly laid out her legal arguments.

Earlier before commencing her submissions in reaction to the various grounds, Dr. Sylvia Blyden apologized to the country’s Legal Profession. She said her decision to make a self-representation was not to be taken as a slight of the country’s legal practitioners but as a result of the nature of the matter. She said she would have wished to have lawyers make the arguments for her but she lamented that given the fact that H.E. President Bio was now well entrenched in office for three years, he had become very, very powerful and so many lawyers shy away from engaging in forceful representation of her position that seeks to have such a very powerful President Bio removed from office as president.

Dr. Sylvia Blyden said even the Affidavit filed last month on January 12th 2021 by the President was “very intimidating” in the contents and in the assertion therein that the place of signing it was the “State House”.

Meanwhile, the matter has now been adjourned to Monday February 22nd 2021 when Dr. Sylvia Blyden is expected to make her further submissions to challenge the other grounds of objections presented by the SLPP and President Bio through their eight man team of brilliant lawyers.

 

Hu Zhangliang, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone

On February 25, 2021, 200,000 vials of COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government to Sierra Leone arrived in Freetown across continents through concerted efforts and close cooperation by both sides. This is a precious gift from the government and people of China to the government and people of Sierra Leone, who are currently making unwavering efforts battling the pandemic.

Presently, countries all over the world are striving to get COVID-19 vaccines, but the supply can by no means meet the high demand across the board at the moment. China is still faced with the pressure of pandemic resurgence at home and is in earnest need of the vaccines. Nevertheless, China has overcome the difficulties and donated the vaccines to Sierra Leone by special arrangement.

The donation is one of the concrete actions in honoring H.E. President Xi Jinping’s solemn pledge of making China’s COVID-19 vaccine a global public good and contribute to the realization of the availability and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries. It also vividly reflects the strong friendship between China and Sierra Leone as well as the decades-long practice of our two countries and peoples sharing weal and woe.

Over the past one year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant adverse impact on Sierra Leone’s economic and social development as well as Sierra Leonean people’s lives. Under the staunch leadership of H.E. President Julius Maada Bio, the Sierra Leonean government and people have combated the pandemic with firm action and achieved commendable results. The Chinese side believes that the donated vaccines will substantially help beef up Sierra Leone’s tenacious fight against COVID-19, protect lives of the people especially the frontline medical and health workers, and contribute to Sierra Leone’s final victory over the pandemic.

Unity and cooperation are the international community’s most potent weapon to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. China always upholds that humanity is a community with a shared future. China actively promotes international cooperation against COVID-19 and makes concerted efforts with the international community to protect the life and health of people in all countries.

United Nations data show that as of early February, 2021, a total of 107.3 million vials of COVID-19 vaccines have been vaccinated globally. 6% of the population in North America was vaccinated, ranking first; Europe 3.6%, Asia 0.9%, South America 0.7%, and Africa less than 0.1%. Some developed countries have purchased huge amount of COVID-19 vaccines, but the vaccine needs of less developed countries have not been met in time.

Against this backdrop, China is taking concrete actions to promote the fair distribution of vaccines. At the request of the WHO, China decided to provide 10 million doses of Chinese vaccines to the COVAX with a view to meeting the urgent needs of developing countries. China has provided vaccine assistance to more 50 countries including Sierra Leone, and made arrangements to facilitate the importation of Chinese vaccines by nearly 30 countries.

The Chinese government puts the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first place, and Chinese companies have been developing vaccines in strict accordance with laws and regulations.

 The Chinese National Medical Product Administration granted conditional approval for market use of the relevant vaccines based on strict and prudent evaluations. The safety and efficacy of the Chinese vaccines has been proven by scientific data.

 As of February 20, 2021, 34 million doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine have been administered among the Chinese people in China. The severe adverse reaction rate after vaccination is less than one in a million, which is much lower than the general influenza vaccine commonly used in the world. So long as the vaccines are stored and used in the prescribed appropriate way, there should not be serious safety issues. The effective rate of the donated Chinese vaccine was about 80% in China’s Phase III mid term trial and 86% in the trial in the UAE. The effective rate of preventing mild symptoms from developing into severe cases was 100%.

Many countries such as the UAE, Bahrain, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Brazil, Argentina, Nepal, Hungary, Turkey, Serbia have approved the use of Chinese vaccines. Many countries sent chartered flights to China for vaccine collection, and many heads of state or government received the vaccines at the airport. At least nine heads of foreign state or government have publicly received Chinese vaccine jabs. These are all votes of confidence in the safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccines.

China does not pursue any geopolitical goals in its international cooperation on the COVID-19 vaccine, does not calculate any economic benefits, nor attaches any political strings in the cooperation. China wishes to make COVID-19 vaccines truly peoples’ vaccine. Accusations from certain people who try to raise doubt over and slander Chinese vaccines or China’s vaccine cooperation are ill motivated, logically messed and baseless. China will continue to work with all parties including Sierra Leone to build a global community of health for all and achieve final victory over the pandemic.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the 60th anniversary of independence of the Republic of Sierra Leone as well as the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between our two countries. For a long time, China and Sierra Leone have been genuine friends enjoying mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual support, win-win cooperation and common development. In this special year of 2021, China will earnestly implement the important consensus reached by H.E. President Xi Jinping and H.E. President Julius Maada Bio on the development of our bilateral relations and work with Sierra Leone to elevate our Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership to a new high for the betterment of our two countries and peoples.

Finally, I wish the Sierra Leonean government and people greater success in combating the pandemic and achieving socio-economic development.

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