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Concord Times ace reporter covers town-hall meeting in Brussels

By Hawa Amara

Concord Times political reporter, Mohamed Massaquoi, is part of the Sierra Leone delegation to Brussels in the Kingdom of Belgium to report on a town-hall meeting organized by the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague and Brussels, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Central Union (SLCU) and the Open Government Initiative of Sierra Leone (OGI-SL).

President Ernest Bai Koroma is expected to give an update on the ongoing constitutional review process in the country, the national census and other developmental activities his government has embarked on in the past years.

According to the Chairperson of SLCU, Abubakarr Bangura, the constitutional review process is significant to Sierra Leoneans, which was the more reason they partnered with the OGI to organize a town-hall meeting for the President to explain more about the review process, the ongoing census, among others.

“It was good that we teamed up with the OGI to organise this town-hall meeting. This will help us to intensify and leverage investment flow between Holland and Sierra Leone in the coming years,” noted Mr. Bangura. “We are working on a business concept and to structure our ideas and ambitions on promoting Sierra Leone’s investment potentials. We are also very much interested in the ongoing census and the constitutional review process.”

OGI Director, Madam Khadija Sesay, said the concept of Open Government Initiative was borne out of President Koroma’s Presidential Retreat in Bumbuna in January 2008 where the President expressed a commitment to ensure that democracy, the rule of law and free flow of information – through open channels of communication amongst the three organs of government and between government and the people – prevail during his presidency.

Madam Sesay said they have held series of town-hall meetings across Sierra Leone and out of the country, in which Sierra Leoneans were given the opportunity to question the President on issues around democracy and good governance in the county.

“OGI organized a nationwide Citizens’ Report Card (CRC) targeting the 149 chiefdoms in the country. The process was to allow democratic participatory surveys to look at the performance of public services, especially on the President’s ‘Agenda for Change’ at the time,” said the OGI director. “A team of dedicated people from civil society and the media were recruited to come out with facts about the operations of government. We are doing this because of transparency, accountability and good governance.”

She added that the Central Union membership and all Sierra Leoneans in Brussels will interact with the President during the session.