Despite efforts by previous governments and our international partners to reconcile Liberians, the head of Search for Common Ground Liberia said his organization in collaboration with stakeholders has embarked on an intensive five counties reconciliation plan.
The head of the Talking Drum Studio, Aaron Weah, made the disclosure recently in an interview with UNMIL radio in Monrovia. According to Weah, the draft plans are now available to the five counties that form part of the reconciliation plan. He named the counties as Sinoe, River Cess, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Cape Mount.
Weah said these counties are currently preparing to review the draft plans after which the project will comprise of the Independent Human Rights Commission, the office of the Peace Ambassador, the Liberia Peace Building office, and the Liberia National Police among other institutions that are going to review and validate the plans in preparation for the national conference scheduled for March this year.
The plan, according to him, originally came together following the 2016 Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Survey conducted by UNMIL and other partners. It was determined that signs of division and polarization have been uncovered in five counties, adding that these divisions were measured by a wide range of different indicators, and as such, UNMIL and the Liberian Government through the statement of mutual commitment have determined that reconciliation efforts have been the weakest in Liberia in the past 12 years.
“It was important that UNMIL sets in motion concrete measures of reconciliation programs before it finally takes off from Liberia,” he noted, adding that it was based on that UNMIL gave support to the Search for Common Ground Liberia for the five counties in its reconciliation program.
Meanwhile, Weah has mentioned that some of the issues that came out of previous meetings basically concerned ethnic division, which he said is growing in Sinoe between the Kru and the Sapo ethnic groups, while in Nimba, a similar situation subsists between the Gio, Mandingo, and Mano.
He stressed that land disputes have been very common and are among the key problems in these counties. “In Grand Cape Mount there is land issue with the concessionaires,” he said making specific reference to Sime Darby.
He added that young people in that area are always angry about the agreement between the Liberian Government and the company, and that the youth are disenchanted about the granting of ancestral lands to foreign concessions, while in River Cess it is the issue of borders.
Furthermore, according to the five-county reconciliation plan, it is expected that after the pending national conference, these plans will be given to the incoming superintendents to have them actualized, some of which were started during former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Administration.
The Search for Common Ground has also included some new aspects to the plan, which the head of the organization said had never been done before with regards to reconciliation programs that have been taking place in the country. He stated that his organization along with some partners have incorporated a new aspect that will look at the historical background of the various tribes found in the target counties.
“It is nearly impossible to reconcile these conflicts, and unless a thorough historical account of each county in which these conflicts are situated is done, we will continue to face serious problems,” Weah concluded.