Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma has called on his countrymen to reflect on their history and future prospects in a spirit of unity. He made the appeal as Sierra Leone marks 50 years of independence from British rule.
Information minister Alhaji Ben Kargbo echoed the president's sentiments in saying Sierra Leone has emerged as a democratically stable country in the sub-region, despite what he called “hurdles” in its development efforts.
The country continues to recover from an 11-year civil war that resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths and massive destruction of property.
Kargbo said since the end of the civil war, Sierra Leone has built a strong foundation of good governance.
“Sierra Leone galvanized itself to put in place infrastructure for an acceptable democratic culture. Today, we Sierra Leoneans are proud of our democracy, we are very proud about the tolerance; both political tolerance and religious tolerance,” he said.
He said that President Koroma has put in place structures that promote peace and help prevent future conflicts.
“The institutions of state have been developed. A judiciary that is worth talking about, parliament that all of us are proud [off] and we are also talking about a police force which has been restructured,” Kargbo said.
Experts estimate women constitute about 52 percent of Sierra Leone's population.
Kargbo said the Koroma administration recognizes the tremendous contributions women make in sustaining peace as well as promoting economic growth.
“The president announced that women folk in this country will be given 30 percent of places in all spheres of life; in parliament, in cabinet…and the president [also] believes that they must be part and parcel of the governance of the state,” Kargbo said.
Meanwhile, several African heads of state and government have arrived in the capital, Freetown to join in the celebrations as Sierra Leone marks 50 years of independence.