600 Passports To Be Withdrawn

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Kabba has raised serious concern over people carrying the country’s diplomatic and service passports who are not supposed to. The Foreign Minister raised the concern in Freetown yesterday when outlining his vision for the Foreign Ministry.

Dr. Ali Kabba said the matter is under very serious consideration by the ministry with a view to withdrawing over 600 of those passports which he insinuated were dubiously issued by the former government. He recalled that formerly, diplomatic and service passports were issued only by the Foreign Affairs Ministry but that the former government withdrew that mandate.

Speaking of the danger of foreigners and other unauthorized people carrying Sierra Leone diplomatic and service passports, he said criminals could commit acts of terrorism elsewhere and be traced to Sierra Leone. This, he said, will portray the country in a bad light.

Dr. Alie Kabba in an interview on Radio Democracy on Wednesday morning said his vision for the ministry’s transformation into the voice of the nation abroad is in line with achieving President Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio’s ‘New Direction’ development and economic growth objectives. He said our embassies abroad should target their activities to be in line with how they can help the government to attract investment into the country for implementing the ‘New Direction’ policies, programmes and projects such the free education, health, agriculture, among others.

While assuring that he is fully au fait with President Bio’s governance demand of discipline, professionalism and delivery, he said his first assignment on the job was to know how the ministry operates by calling a meeting of all staff members where he impressed on them that it would no longer be business as usual.

The Foreign Affairs Minister disclosed that since independence Sierra Leone has not had a clear foreign affairs vision, adding that ministers have come and gone without been able to put the country visibly on the global map. What he said he wants to see in our career diplomats is smartness. “I will develop a robust foreign policy that will focus on development, economic and diplomatic policy that will make Sierra Leone an investment base for the rest of the world,” Dr. Alie Kabba pledged.

In that direction, on Tuesday, he engaged with members of the diplomatic and consular corps, UN agencies and other multilateral organizations represented in Sierra Leone to solicit their support and cooperation under the ‘New Direction.’ Dr. Kabba said in reorganizing the county’s representation abroad, the focus will be on reciprocity. He said staff requirements in some embassies abroad will be reduced given budgetary considerations, while he is looking into the possibility of increased diplomatic relations with countries like Ireland, France, Belgium, India, Brazil, Australia, Israel and the Caribbean countries.

Dr. Kabba emphasized the need for proper training of the country’s diplomatic staff, noting that diplomacy is a specialty that has a language and protocols of its own that serving diplomats must master to represent the country well abroad. For this, he said, the ministry is going to establish a Foreign Service Academy as well as establish a research and documentation capacity division that will help the staff to make informed decisions.

On the issue of diplomats abroad who have not yet been paid for the month of May, he told them not to worry as the Ministry of Finance is working on it.