By Abdul Karim Koroma in Addis Ababa
New Zealand’s emissary to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. James Kember, on Tuesday 25th March paid a courtesy visit to his Sierra Leonean peer, His Excellency Andrew Gbebay Bangali, Ambassador to Addis Ababa and Permanent Representative to the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa.
The two main objectives of Ambassador Dr. Kember’s visit were to bid farewell to his colleague and to thank him for supporting him during his tenure in Addis Ababa. Ambassador Bangali is going home to take up a new assignment as the Director General and Ambassador-At-Large in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said Ambassador Bangali would be his point of contact in Sierra Leone, adding that they had worked at the United Nations in New York in the 1990s and have now found themselves working together again in Ethiopia.
Dr. Kember pointed out that his country has participated in so many peace support operations in the world. “With the small number of embassies we have to stay in touch,” he said, adding: “I am looking forward to have a cordial working relationship with your successor.”
Responding, Ambassador Bangali – who also doubles as the Dean of the Group of ECOWAS Ambassadors – said that New Zealand and Sierra Leone have some similarities, citing that both countries are Commonwealth members and they are also small countries. He assured his colleague that he would stay in touch with him and that the latter was free to consult him on any issue for which he may need his support.
The duo also spoke about New Zealand’s candidature to the United Nations Security Council non-permanent category and Ambassador Bangali made it clear that the two other countries (Spain and Turkey) which are vying for the same positions are yet to approach Sierra Leone for her support.
The meeting was also attended by Mr. Ismael Koroma and Mrs. Juliana Fallah, the Deputy Head of Mission and the Acting Counsellor and Head of Chancery at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Addis Ababa respectively.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday 26th March, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Ismael Koroma, attended an African Union/United Nations Joint Briefing for Troops and Police Contributing Countries on the security and political development in Darfur. The meeting took place at the African Union Commission.
Mr. Koroma spoke about the political will and commitment on the part of the Khartoum government in order for the hybrid mission, the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to succeed.
He recalled that the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) succeeded because there was a strong political will and commitment on the part of the former government to restore peace in the country.
He added that without the political will, UNAMSIL would not have succeeded in Sierra Leone.
UNAMID’s Force Commander, Lieutenant General Paul Mella, gave an update on the security situation in Darfur, while Ambassador Abiodun Bashua, the Director and Head of Joint Support Coordination Mechanism of the Mission, proffered comments on the political and mediation efforts in Darfur.