Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Chairman for the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Sierra Leone’s Parliament
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has debated and ratified four bilateral agreements with unanimity, including one that exempts holders of diplomatic and service passports from being required to obtain a visa before entering the People’s Republic of China.
Under the leadership of former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, governments of Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China signed a six point cooperation agreement, one of which being visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and service passports.
Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara
Presenting the agreements to parliament, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Alie Sanjan Kabba, said that “these agreements will enable Sierra Leone to tap into China’s new outbound investments with a view of promoting trade, inclusion and the need for strengthening and deepening bilateral relations between the two countries.”
Contributing to the debate, the Chairman for the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, noted, “there is no controversy in any of these agreements, save for Parliament to be given an explicit role during the consultations with China”, while calling for “easy visa access for MPs and Ministers in their database.”
Whilst speaking on eradicating visa restrictions for Chinese government officials, the Opposition Whip, Hon. Hassan Sesay, praised “the erstwhile leadership of Siaka Stevens for establishing and cultivating such a relationship that is benefiting the people of China and Sierra Leone, progressively.”
Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Alie Kabba and Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Wu Peng
Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara of Constituency 059 in the Kambia District of Northern Sierra Leone, decried the idea of visa exemption only to holders of diplomatic and service passports, while appealing “for the extension of the no visa restriction to China for ordinary passport holders who are Sierra Leoneans that are involved in doing business between China and Sierra Leone.”
“This will promote business and development and ensure a win-win situation between the two countries,” he said, adding that the two governments should extend the same opportunity to ordinary passport holders in the near future.
Acting leader of the opposition, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, commended the government for these very important agreements which recognized “continuity in governance with a view of deepening our diplomatic relations with other countries.”
Hon. Sidie M. Tunis, the leader of government business, said that “these agreements are good and will promote friendly ties between Sierra Leone and China,” adding that “the current government is following on some of the agreements that had been signed by the previous government.” He promised that “in future, the new direction will negotiate for the inclusion of ordinary passport holders to enjoy visa exemption to China.”
|People’s daily online