The Directorate of Strategic Communications
26th September, 2023
MFAIC Building, Tower Hill Freetown
Uganda is opening a consular office in Freetown, Uganda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria and all other ECOWAS member states, Ambassador Ocheger Nelson said Tuesday while formally introducing the new Ugandan Honorary Consul to Sierra Leone’s Ag Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Francess Alghali, at her Tower Hill office in Freetown.
“Because we are not yet able to establish a fully functional embassy here as a country, we thought it fit that we could identify somebody who could be an immediate link between me as ambassador in Abuja and the Government and people of Sierra Leone”, Nelson said as
he introduced Deepak Bhurani as Uganda’s new Honorary Consul whose appointment, he was pleased to say, has been approved by the Government of Sierra Leone.
“So, I am here to formally introduce him to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by extension, the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone so that as he commences to discharge his responsibilities, he is formally known to you”, the ambassador said.
“This afternoon, we are also formally opening a consulate where Deepak is going to be working…So I look at this as a milestone in our diplomatic relations because it now gives us the opportunity to finally scale up our interactions in the areas that I’ve already enumerated”, he said. “This in my view is a very important milestone….I’ll do my utmost to guide him, advise him, to make sure that our relations could grow from strength to strength”, he said.
Ambassador Nelson used the occasion to formally congratulate President Bio for his re-election into office and said his government was pleased to work with the Sierra Leone Government and the people of Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone and Uganda established diplomatic ties in 1973. Over the years, the relationship has been very cordial and continues to grow built on understanding, Pan-Africanism and shared commitment to developing human capital in both countries. Both countries are former British colonies who have shared experiences in civil strife, rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants.
For Nelson, the most memorable event of the bilateral relation, was in 2019 when President Julius Maada Bio visited Uganda where he had the privilege to interact with the president very closely. At the time, the Sierra Leone President visited a few areas of interest in Uganda. He said President Bio prioritized Health, Agriculture and Value Addition to agricultural products, as key areas of cooperation.
The Minister welcomed the ambassador to Sierra Leone as she congratulated Bhurani upon his appointment as Uganda’s Honorary Consul to Sierra Leone. She asked the ambassador to convey Sierra Leone’s appreciation to President Yuweri Museveni for opening a Uganda consular office in Sierra Leone.
She said Sierra Leone and Uganda have had a long-standing relationship which was further enhanced by President Bio’s visit to Uganda in 2019 when several agreements of cooperation were signed between the government of Sierra Leone and Uganda. The minister said presidents Bio and Museveni at the time agreed on several areas of cooperation prominent among which was a visa waiver for holders of diplomatic and service passports from both countries which she said was a huge step in furthering friendly movement between the two countries.
She said now that the relationship is being upscaled, Sierra Leone is interested in strengthening cooperation in agriculture, an area in which Uganda has excelled, especially in value addition. “We view the opening of a consular office taking our cooperation, friendship and collaboration to the next level, particularly as the two heads of state agreed on the formation of a joint permanent council to foster economic cooperation”, she said.
The minister further informed the ambassador and honorary consul that Sierra Leone will be on the Security Council for Africa in the non-permanent category. “We continue to count on the support of Uganda as we take our seat in the Council in 2024-2025”, she said.
She hoped Bhurani would perform his responsibilities excellently as a representative of a friend of Sierra Leone, further assuring him that the doors of the Foreign Affairs ministry are always open to him to be accorded the necessary courtesies and preferments. “We look forward to continued working relationship with you”, she said.
Bhurani thanked the minister and Ambassador Nelson for granting him the opportunity to maintain the relationship between the two countries. He pledged to give up his best.