June 4, 2015 By Alhaji M.B. Jalloh in Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone has successfully participated in the 42nd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which was hosted in the State of Kuwait from 27th – 28th May, 2015.
In his opening speech of the two-day ministerial meeting held under the theme, “Joint Vision in Promoting Tolerance and Rejecting Terrorism”, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jabber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, said sectarian strife was the most serious threat facing Muslims and called for immediate action to tackle it.
“We need to take a serious stand against sectarian tensions plaguing and dividing our nations. We are required to intensify efforts with the world to combat terrorism being waged by terrorist organisations,” the Emir of the oil-rich Gulf State told the meeting.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of Sierra Leone’s delegation to the conference, Dr. Ebun Adebola Strasser-King, in her speech on Thursday, 28th May, said: “Sierra Leone welcomes dialogue and peaceful settlement of international disputes and will continue to work and support the efforts of the OIC in achieving a peaceful and stable society in all the member countries for its entire people to enjoy prosperity.”
She also commended the efforts of the OIC member states and the wider international community for rendering assistance to Ebola affected countries.
“On the sub-regional front, we are particularly grateful for the timely and coordinated response of the global community in complementing the efforts of our three countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – in the fight against the Ebola scourge,” she said to the ministers of the 57-member states organization.
“As the struggle to put the Ebola disease behind us [continues], we look forward to further support through the OIC Trust Fund for the most affected countries in addressing the humanitarian and post-Ebola recovery projects.”
She said despite the isolation, stigmatization, travel restrictions and economic difficulties endured by the three Mano River Union countries, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) “has now been considerably subdued” as exemplified by the recent declaration of Liberia as Ebola free, single digits or zero infection rates in Sierra Leone and reduced infection rate in Guinea.
She therefore appealed to sister countries in the Gulf region to lift the visa restrictions imposed on the three countries, pending the declaration of the end of Ebola.
The minister later met with some Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the conference. One of them is the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, Abul Hassam Mahmood Ali. During their meeting, issues of common interest were discussed and ways of enhancing cooperation and developing bilateral relations in order to achieve common interests with their respective countries.
During the conference, member states discussed political, economic, social, cultural and technological issues as well as conflicts in the Islamic world.
Wrapping up the 42nd session, the ministers and heads of delegation of member states affirmed their full commitment to support the objectives and principles of the OIC in order to benefit the Muslim Ummah and secure its common interests within the OIC framework; so as to promote Islamic solidarity and joint Islamic action.
The delegates also reinforced their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms. They also expressed, in the same vein, the need to combat terrorist groups and those who support and finance them and their heinous practices, which they say, “have nothing to do with the noble religion of Islam”, stressing that these groups can in no means be linked to the noble Islamic religion because, as they put it, “terrorism has no region or nationality”.
The session also expressed solidarity with African countries in their fight against poverty and the development challenges facing the continent.