On 7 September, six days after his arrival in the country, the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Sierra Leone Manuel Müller presented his letters of credence to President Julius Maada Bio, in a ceremony at State House. The same day, other colleagues, including the Irish and British Heads of Mission, presented their credentials. The day before, the Head of Delegation was received by Foreign Affairs Minister David Francis. The Head of Delegation was accompanied in the presentation of his letters of credence by the Head of Political Section, Head of Cooperation and Head of Administration of the EU Delegation. The President was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chief Minister, as well as other Ministers and senior officials.
After handing out his letters of credence, the Head of Delegation had a brief tête-à-tête with the President. Ambassador Manuel Müller stressed that the partnership between the EU and Sierra Leone is strong and based in shared values, as shown in the last Political Dialogue held in July 2021, chaired by the President. The EU will continue to be a reliable partner of Sierra Leone, including democratic and electoral support. After the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) deployed in 2018, an Electoral Follow-Up Mission (EFM) led by a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) will visit Sierra Leone in October, which will be an opportunity to monitor and discuss together with the Sierra Leonean authorities progress in electoral reform before the 2023 general elections.
The Head of Delegation also conveyed to the President that the EU acknowledges the important efforts and reforms made by the Sierra Leonean Government to strengthen the rule of law and protect human rights, like the recent abolition of the death penalty. The EU and Sierra Leone have constructively worked together in different areas, from agriculture to education. The EU remains committed to continuing to work together with SL to strengthen democracy, elections, rule of law, education (including girls’ access to education), an enabling business and investment climate, and job creation. The EU encourages the Sierra Leonean Government to continue progress in these areas. Following the work of his predecessor, the new Head of Delegation aspires to continue to deepen the EU-Sierra Leone partnership. The EU also welcomes the active role of Sierra Leone in the region/ECOWAS and internationally, and will seek to strengthen cooperation with Sierra Leone on multilateral fora. The Head of Delegation also advocated for the participation of Sierra Leone in the initiative “Leaders Pledge for Nature”.
In his response, President Bio said that the EU is a strong partner of Sierra Leone, and Sierra Leone is deeply grateful for the EU’s longstanding support to the country. He added that the Sierra Leonean Government is committed to continuing to implement the reforms that will make a “vibrant democratic nation”, and the Government will follow up on the implementation of the EU EOM recommendations. He stressed: “We align our aspirations with those of our international partners and the EU in particular”. Sierra Leone values the support of the EU to address the challenges that lie ahead. Sierra Leone will also continue to play an active role in ECOWAS and multilateral fora.
In conclusion, a warm welcome and starting point for the new assignment of Head of Delegation Manuel Müller in Sierra Leone.