ONS Coordinates National Stakeholders Retreat in Bo

The Government of Sierra Leone, through the Office of National Security and in collaboration with ECOWAS, the African Union Border Programme (AUBP), GIZ and IOM, is coordinating stakeholders’ efforts for the installation of the national Technical Committee for the reaffirmation and delimitation of the land and maritime boundaries between the Republics of Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Regarding the above, stakeholder from the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies gathered in Bo for a two-day retreat to install Sierra Leone’s Technical Committee on Border management and security. The committee will, among others be working in close collaboration with its Guinean counterparts to effectively manage issues around border insecurities for both sister countries. The formation of this committee is in recognition of the realities that effectively managing border issues requires concerted efforts among the relevant stakeholders at both internal and external levels.

In addition, efforts aimed at comprehensively addressing Board insecurities are very cardinal to the overall security and development of all countries around the world, to which Sierra Leone and Guinea are no exceptions.

In recognition of these practicalities, the Government of Sierra Leone has over the years made frantic efforts (using diplomatic approaches) to address and manage Sierra Leone’s land and maritime borders, with special reference to neighbouring Guinea. The strategic objective of the Government of Sierra Leone is to ensure the security, development and peaceful coexistence of Sierra Leone’s border regions through negotiated settlements with our immediate neighbours.

Complementing the Government of Sierra Leone’s efforts and determination aimed at addressing border conflicts between Sierra Leone and her neighbours, the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) with support from the GIZ and ECOWAS, between the 23rd to 24th August 2022, invited Sierra Leone and Guinea to sit in as observers in the first-ever experiencing sharing session between the National Boundary Commissions of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana in the Ivorian Capital, Abidjan. Among the benefits Sierra Leone gained are, Institutional, Legal, Financial and Operational Frameworks and/or actions on joint border management. Inspired by these experiences from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the delegations from Sierra Leone and Guinea were encouraged to work on modalities for the reaffirmation of both countries commitment to collaboratively manage maritime borders, under the auspices of the Cross Border Cooperation activities on conflict prevention and management within the frameworks of the AUBP and the Manor River Union (MRU) Protocol on Cross-border Cooperation and Security among member states.

The two-day retreat in Bo City saw the formation of Sierra Leone’s Technical Committee for the reaffirmation and demarcation of Sierra Leone’s land and maritime borders and in readiness for the maiden engagement between Sierra Leone and Guinea which is scheduled to take place in Conakry from the 28th to 30th November 2022.

Cross-cutting issues presented and discussed at the retreat revolved around calls for the maintenance of the diplomatic and dialogue posture, instead of the military approach as this was considered very crucial for peace and unity to reign between the two countries and within the sub-region.

Participants further encouraged the Government of Sierra Leone and the organizers to consider addressing Sierra Leone’s internal boundary conflicts as well.

Representing the National Security Coordinator (NS Coord), Office of National Security, Mr. Abdulai Caulker, the Deputy National Security Coordinator (DNS Coord), Dr. Ahmed A. Sannoh entreated participants on the need to see boundaries and/or borders as bridges of developments rather than divisions. He shared the experience of Sierra Leone’s delegation with attendees and stated that such experience is useful for the aspirations of both Sierra Leone and Guinea. The DNS Coord encouraged Sierra Leone’s delegation to ensure that all the necessary documents required for the upcoming border security meeting in Guinea are intact. The Chief of Staff (CoS), Office of National Security, Mr. Langumba Keili also encouraged the Sierra Leone’s Technical Committee and/or Delegation to focus the discussions and engagements on the issues that bind both countries together, in addition to the territorial claims and demarcations. He also encouraged the delegation to also make use of the Manor River Union (MRU) conventions on border cooperation, security and development.

The representative from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources expressed that while he recognizes that good unneighborly relationships are “far better than taller buildings”, Sierra Leone has and continues to suffer from the hands of her Guinean counterparts through border infractions at both land and maritime borders.

Several other speakers from the MoD, Local Government and Community Relations, Planning and Economic Development (ECOWAS Desk), the IOM among others made very salient contributions at the opening and deliberation sessions of the retreat.

The Paramount Chief of Kakua Chiefdom, Honourable PC Prince Lappia Boima gave the welcome statement while the Minister of State, Southern Region, Honourable Mohamed K. Alie gave the keynote address.

Participants appealed to the leadership of the Office of National Security to ensure that His Excellency, The President of Sierra Leone, Brig. Gen. (Rtd). Julius Maada Bio is thoroughly briefed on the proposed visit to Guinea so that he can be abreast with all the issues with a view to enabling him to have the appropriate and adequate data so that he can get in touch with his Guinean counterpart before the Sierra Leone delegation departs for Conakry.

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