President Yoweri Museveni yesterday warmly received Sierra Leone President, Mr. Julius Maada Bio at State House, Entebbe. The Sierra Leone leader arrived is in Uganda on a three-day state visit at the invitation of his host President Museveni.
The receiving ceremonies at State House, Entebbe included the playing of the national anthems of Sierra Leone and Uganda as well as the inspection of a guard of honour. The visiting Sierra Leone Head of State was accorded a 21-gun salute and entertained to colourful cultural performances.
Later, the two Presidents held bilateral talks along with their respective delegations during which President Museveni congratulated his guest for the attainment of having political stability in Sierra Leone as well as for ending the Ebola outbreak. He stressed that it was important for Uganda to identify the areas of specialization, business transactions and trade over which the two countries can work together. He commended President Maada Bio for his great leadership skills as the Current Chairman of the Committee of 10 the African Union.
President Maada Bio on his part thanked President Museveni for sending Ugandan doctors to assist Sierra Leone when the Ebola epidemic in the Ebola epidemic hit the West African country between 2014 and 2016. He said that the action had greatly saved Sierra Leone from more deaths. He highly appreciated President Museveni’s role in supporting the peace processes in South Sudan.
Following the meeting of the two leaders and their respective delegations, three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed between the Government of Uganda and the Government of Sierra Leone that included a general cooperation framework agreement; political consultations agreement between the two countries’ Ministries of Foreign Affairs that was initialed by the respective Foreign Affairs Ministers, Hon. Sam Kuteesa and his counterpart, Ms. Nabeera Faridah. The waiver of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, official or service passports was signed by Internal Affairs Minister, Hon. Jeje Odongo and the Sierra Leone Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Nabeera Faridah.
A joint communiqué issued at the conclusion of the talks says President Museveni and his Sierra Leone counterpart had agreed to the formation of a Joint Permanent Council to foster talks on trade and economic cooperation.
The Presidents called on the international community to support the effort of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to help the Somali Government. They also affirmed their continued support to working closely with the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) and other inter-governmental bodies.
At a joint press conference, President Museveni said that it was essential to link West Africa to East Africa in terms of infrastructural development with a view to boosting the economies of the respective regions through railway linkage and water transport.
“Uganda, with resources, will have a population 100 million in 2050. We also have a lot of people in West Africa who have natural resources and so we need to work together to develop Africa,” he said.
President Maada Bio, on his part, said he was in Uganda to learn and emulate how the East African country had been able to revive its economy despite the harsh past that it had faced.
“I am here to learn about the many strides done to develop this county despite the harsh past. We admire it and want to learn from it. Thank you for bringing peace and stability needed to develop the country. We have had a similar past, had the same colonial masters, internal conflicts, Ebola and corruption. Our economy was completely ruined from war but because of our resilience and determination, we are a now a democratic country. Today we have had difficulty to convince the people that there is no war, no Ebola in the country. I am trying to fight this myself without PR,” he said.
President Maada Bio called upon Ugandan investors to consider investing in Sierra Leone, adding that its investment climate had improved since the political turmoil had ended.
President Museveni later hosted President Julius Maada and his delegation to a State luncheon. The Sierra Leone leader will visit Kapeeka industrial establishments in Nakaseke District before he attends the Africa Blockchain Conference in Kampala on Wednesday 3rd July 2019.