Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 February 2019:
Yesterday, Monday 25 February 2019, Germany’s minister of foreign affairs – Heiko Maas, held talks with president Julius Maada Bio at State House in Freetown. Addressing president Bio, the German Foreign Minister said he is excited about visiting Sierra Leone for the first time, and is very interested in the development process in the country.
He stated that as a member of the United Nations Security Council, Germany is interested in looking at how conflicts could be prevented and solved, with Sierra Leone serving as an example.
He assured that Germany is ready to put issues of sexual violence on the agenda while acknowledging remarkable stance being adopted by the Sierra Leone government in raising public awareness, help victims through free treatment in hospitals and prepare the judiciary to take action against perpetrators.
He noted that the UN must focus on those issues because of the increasing rate of sexual violence, including the use of rape as a weapon of war.
President Bio told the German foreign minister that Sierra Leone is enjoying a very good relationship with Germany, adding that he is now focusing on strengthening that relationship and widening the level of cooperation between the two countries.
He said his Government is working on a comprehensive National Development Plan as a means of moving a lot of people out of poverty.
“We have placed premium on human capital development as a way to lay a solid foundation for development in this country. We have laid emphasis on diversifying our economy, not just being dependent on diamonds and gold but also on agriculture, tourism and other areas as multiple revenue base.
“We have handled the economy reasonably well and we have been able to identify and generate more revenue than it has been done in the past. With that we have been able to support some of the basic activities of government. We want to stop dependency on aid, so we are engaged in activities that are geared towards trade and investments. We are working on providing the right climate here that can be inviting for foreign investors to come in,” he said.
He said sexual violence has been around since the civil war but that it has worsened to the extent that he has had to declare rape and sexual violence a national emergency.
President Bio, who is also Chairman of the Committee of Ten African Union Heads of State charged with leading a common position to secure two seats in the Security Council, said Africa has 1.2 billion people who were not represented in the Council, adding that 70% of the decisions being taken at the Council affected Africa and, therefore, the continent deserves to be properly represented.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Alie Kabba, who chaired the meeting, said his German counterpart was on his first visit to Sierra Leone.
He stated that he has had lengthy discussions with his German counterpart and covered several issues that reflected the core priorities of the New Direction Government, adding that he has also spoken on the need to focus on foreign direct investment.