President Koroma and Tony Blair Promote Sierra Leone at Clinton Global Initiative
3 min read
Posted on: 25th September 2008
During the meeting Mr. Blair congratulated President Koroma on a good first year in office, praising him for his tough stance on corruption, public sector reform and drug-trafficking whilst also emphasising that there is much work still to do - in particular in encouraging private sector investment and the importance of delivering on the government's new Economic Development Strategy.
Following the meeting, Mr. Blair promised to send a team of his staff to be based in Freetown, supporting the government through advice and capacity-building.
Last week marked one year since President Koroma came to office in a free, fair and democratic election that saw the peaceful transfer of power to his All People's Congress Party. Describing the successes of his first year, President Koroma said that the focus of this first period in office has been on laying the foundations for progress by taking tough action on the crucial areas of corruption and public sector reform and developing an Economic Development Strategy focusing on agriculture, energy and infrastructure.
Since Mr. Blair's visit to the West African state in June 2008, President Koroma's government has passed one of Africa's toughest Anti-Corruption Laws and the President became the first in Sierra Leone's history to declare his assets, winning plaudits from the international community.
In Public Sector reform, the President has recently undertaken performance reviews of all of his ministerial colleagues - following the signing of performance contracts earlier this year - and begun an ambitious verification exercise in order to remove ghost workers from the public payroll.
Mr. Blair urged President Koroma to continue with firm action on these issues and to maintain his strong stance against the drug-trafficking affecting Sierra Leone and other West Africa states. In July of this year, the Sierra Leone authorities intercepted a drug flight carrying over 700 kilos of cocaine, leading to the arrest of over 50 suspects including several internationals and a number of government officials. Mr. Blair expressed his admiration for President Koroma's commitment to tackling this problem, while exhorting the international community to do more to help Sierra Leone and other West African states deal with the growing security threat posed by narcotics in the region.
Following on from this meeting, the next stage for their collaboration will be for Tony Blair to send around 8 of his staff to be based in Freetown from October working on improving government processes and attracting private sector investment into key sectors. Through this work, Mr. Blair and his team will aim to support the government and its Development Partners in continuing to make progress on the President's priorities of agriculture, energy and infrastructure.
After their meeting, Mr Blair and President Koroma appeared at a special plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative, discussing poverty alleviation in special circumstances alongside René Préval of Haiti and Surin Pitsuwin, the Secretary General of ASEAN.
The work described here was carried out by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, it is now being continued by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.