Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has departed Freetown on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, for New York, United States where he will be attending the United Nations General Assembly and honoring an invitation by the International Criminal Court prosecutor.
The 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) under the theme, ‘Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all’ opened on Tuesday, 5 September 2023.
The first day of the high-level General Debate will be Tuesday, 19 September 2023 where Heads of State and Government will gather at UN Headquarters to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provide high-level political guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to the target year of 2030 for achieving the Goals.
As part of his schedule in New York, Bio is expected to meet the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Asad Ahmad Khan KC who extended an invitation to the President earlier in August. Although the detail of the meeting is not particularly clear, the ICC said their “Office attaches great importance to this meeting and hopes its request can be accommodated.”
Sierra Leone’s Information Minister, Chernor Bah said the invitation is to “discuss Sierra Leone’s leadership with regard to matters related to the ICC” and the country’s “tenure as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.”
Since the conclusion of the June 24, 2023, presidential elections, Sierra Leone has been embroiled in a heated political situation after the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) boycotted governance in protest of the alleged irregularities and violations of the electoral procedures.
The United States through the spokesperson, Mathew Miller, also raised concerns about irregularities in the election results announced by the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL). The department, in its statement from July 24, voiced its unease over accounts of threats, including those of a lethal nature, directed at local and international observers, civil society groups, and election commission members.
It is not particularly clear as at press time if the invitation by the ICC prosecutor is connected to the recent elections.