The United Nations contends that while significant progress has been made in Sierra Leone the western Africa nation faces numerous threats to its stability as it continues on the path to recovery from a disastrous civil war.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued his report to the Security Council after having visited Sierra Leone in early July. Annan remained “reasonably optimistic” about prospects for long-term peace and economic recovery. The transfer in June of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to The Hague to face war crime charges removed a major source of potential instability in Sierra Leone Annan said.
“Currently, the most serious potential threats to the country’s stability emanate from domestic challenges, including the need to improve the general standard of living of the population, stimulate economic progress, step up anti-corruption efforts and address the issue of high unemployment, particularly of the youth,” he said.
Annan expressed his concerns for Sierra Leone’s political environment as the nation prepares for elections in July 2007.
“There are also worrisome signs of growing intolerance among various political party leaders and their supporters, which portend acrimonious and potentially violent campaigns in the period leading up to the 2007 elections,” he said.
According to Annan, some political parties have declared certain areas of the country “off limits” to opponents and the government had issued a directive requiring political parties to obtain permission from the police before holding meetings.
In addition to dispatching an electoral needs assessment mission to Sierra Leone, Annan appealed for funding of $8-$9 million in order to close the gap in financing the upcoming elections.