Sierra Leone’s Information Minister has welcomed the U.N. Security Council’s decision to lift its sanctions against the West African nation after the civil war there ended eight years ago.
Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo told VOA the move will serve as a catalyst for the international business community to invest in his country.
“We are very satisfied and very happy that this is a step that will give confidence to investors and people of goodwill who will want to come to this country to do business. And, apart from that, the very population here in Freetown, and in Sierra Leone in general, seems very satisfied that this aura has been removed (from off) the shoulders of the citizens of this country.”
Kargbo also said that “since the end of the war, we have taken all the reforms necessary. We have moved towards effective reconciliation trying to forget about the past and making it very clear that the war that buffeted this country will never be repeated again.”
He further stated that Sierra Leoneans are grateful that the sanctions have been lifted following the protracted civil war.
In 1997, The United Nations imposed arms and travel sanctions after rebels were accused of killing over 50,000 people and many others were mutilated during Sierra Leone’s civil war from 1991 to 2002.
Analysts say the country is making efforts at reconciliation, but also warn that tensions persist due to the high unemployment rate among the country’s young people.
Kargbo said the sanctions made it difficult for the government to attract investors.
“When the sanctions were in place until today, insurance companies were very leery about handling insurance matters and, therefore, the shippers` and, therefore, the people who imported goods and services to Sierra Leone paid extremely high insurance premiums because Sierra Leone was still listed as an unstable country because of the non-lifting of this ban.”
He also expressed confidence that the insurance companies will lower their premiums to attract investors.