U.S. Congress representatives visiting Sierra Leone’s parliament

Austin Thomas – Our Freetown Correspondent

13 September 2013

Sierra-Leone-ParliamentTwo retired members of the United States Congress – Barbara Kennelly and Jim Kolbe have arrived in Sierra Leone, and are scheduled to visit the Houses of Parliament next month.

They will engage with the country’s members of parliament, as part of their efforts in helping to build political consensus among the various political parties in Sierra Leone.

The experienced U.S politician – Madam Barbara Kennelly served as the Democrat’s representative from 1982 to 1999, and Jim Kolbe was a Republican congressman from 1985 to 2007.

They will also be promoting United States’ foreign relations in the interest of peacebuilding, human rights and national development.

In a preliminary visit to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, the Deputy Ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone – Kathleen FitzGibbon, accompanied by the Political Affairs Officer of the U.S Embassy – Joshua E. Stern, told the leadership of the Houses of Parliament that the U.S government has had a very long-standing diplomatic relationship with Sierra Leone.

They said that the congressional visit is geared towards ensuring that such cordiality can help establish a fruitful connection between Congress and the Houses of Parliament.

us congressShe said that during the week’s visit, the visitors (Photo) will spend three days here in Freetown with Members of Parliament and representatives of different political parties.

They will visit Kenema before their return to the U.S.

The Clerk of Parliament – Ibrahim Sesay, explained to the visitors that the Houses of Parliament had benefited a lot from members of the international community, especially in terms of logistic support and capacity building of staff, over the years.

He said that the visit by the U.S Congressman and woman would be an opportunity to learn more about the status of the U.S House of Representatives, and should open doors not only for the MPs, but also the administrative wing of Sierra Leone’s parliament.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament – Chernor R.M. Bah noted that with Sierra Leone’s parliament operating 99% as a presidential system, they are looking forward to exchanging ideas about the system operating in the U.S, so as to promote mutual understanding between the two Houses.

Both the majority and minority leaders of the House – S.B.B. Dumbuya and Bernadette Lahai, respectively expressed the need for constructive collaboration between the two main political parties in the House – A.P.C and S.L.P.P, especially in the area of constructive dialogue with respect to nation building, for which they expressed hope that the experienced visitors will help to foster.