Liberia: ECOWAS Launches Peace, Security, Other Dialogues

— As 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections activities draw closer

Ahead of the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections, the ECOWAS office in Liberia has launched a series of dialogues aimed at promoting peace, security and development in the country.

The official launching ceremony, which was held in Monrovia recently, centered around sustaining the post-war gains, including peace and stability as well as ensuring that governance is people-centered, rather than being based and focused on selfish motives of a few who are entrusted with power to lead and direct the affairs of the state.

Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered the keynote address.

“Considering the build-up, enthusiasm and very high expectations of Liberians and all stakeholders for the conduct and outcome of the 2023 elections,” Kemayah said, “it is very important that an effort aimed at mitigating conflict in the country in particular, and the sub-region in general, be hailed as a positive initiative that must be fully supported.”

Kemayah told his audience that peace is the foundation upon which the superstructures of security and development are built and that security and development cannot flourish without peace.

“I doubt whether there can be peace without security,” he indicated, adding, “This means that peace and security are the fulcrum of societal progress — development, growth and modernization.”

He assured the gathering of President Weah’s support of the initiative and willingness to work with ECOWAS and all other regional bodies in support of peace, stability and development.

“Liberia and Liberians have endured long years of violence, instability and insecurity. Painstakingly, Liberia and the Liberian people have experienced impediments in growth and development as a result of our protracted civil crisis,” the Foreign Minister reflected.

Kemayah disclosed that the planning and implementation of the dialogues are within the framework of practical preventive diplomacy, which the Weah administration believes will accrue far greater dividends over mediation, negotiation, conciliation and settlement.

“On the key subject of the elections of October 2023 in Liberia, we wish to reaffirm the unwavering commitment and preparedness of His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and the Government of Liberia to ensure the conduct of a free, fair, transparent, peaceful, credible and inclusive elections; in keeping with international standard and best practice,” he shared.

Josephine Nkrumah, Resident Representative of the ECOWAS Commission said the theme, “Consolidating Peace, Security and Development”, is everybody’s business and, as such, Liberians should take action at all times to protect the country’s hard-earned peace.

“Healthy and sustainable societies are based on three pillars: peace and security, sustainable development, the rule of law and respect for human rights. There can be no long-term security without development; there can be no long-term development without security, and no society can long remain prosperous without the rule of law and respect for human rights,” Nkrumah quoted the late Kofi Annan from a 2005 Article in the UN Chronicle.

She said that regional peace — and by extension global peace — is unachievable when conflict ravages some nations. “We cannot truly benefit from sustainable development when some nations continue to wallow in underdevelopment.”

According to the ECOWAS representative in Liberia, over the next eleven months in the run up to elections, it would be necessary to deepen conversations and commit to that process of reflecting on the roles each and every individual member of ECOWAS plays in our collective endeavor to promote peace, security and development.

“As citizens of Liberia, in private and public service, youth and aged, man and woman, persons with disability, migrant and diplomat, appointed and elected official, of every religion, ethnic background, creed and class, our duty first and foremost is to our country,” she said.

Nkrumah noted that she has taken time and read the Constitution of Liberia and thinks that there is a need for amendment to certain clauses, including citizenship. She noted that not much has been mentioned in the Constitution about citizens’ duties and responsibilities to their country compared to the burden placed on the government.

“As a Regional body and fully aware that national conflicts within the sub-region always have had regional ramifications as our region has experienced, ECOWAS continues to play a significant role in conflict prevention, peace building, and security through the various strands of stakeholder engagements, implementation of protocols on good governance and security, ECOWARN, ECONEC, Security Sector Reform, social protection framework amongst others,” she said.

Meanwhile, German Ambassador to Liberia, Jakob Haselhuber, noted that the achievement of the goals for the dialogues can only be realized if everyone is involved. He pledged the support of his country and partners with functional mission offices in Liberia to the initiative.