The Liberia Peace Initiative (LPI) Monday, May 19, hosted the first friendship and reconciliation luncheon to reunite Nimbaians and Grand Geddeans.
The luncheon held at a resort in Monrovia brought together Liberia’s international partners, government officials and those from the private sector.
According to Liberia Peace Ambassador George M. Weah, the occasion was initiated to officially launch peace dialogue between the neighboring people of Grand Gedeh and Nimba counties.
Ambassador Weah recounted that after the 1980 coup, the government of former President Samuel K. Doe was dominated by people from both counties—occasioned the ‘very cordial and special relation that existed between the then Head of State Samuel K. Doe and his Commanding General, the late Thomas Quiwonkpah.’
According to Weah, reason leading to the animosity between the two people as to how and why this brotherly friendly between these two sons of Liberia degenerated into animosity for each other remains speculative history—as there are numerous interpretations and versions as what actually went wrong between them.”
“We also witnessed how this situation was exploited by third parties, who had their own agenda, because we saw how the 15 counties and all Liberians were sucked into this conflict-resulting into the emergence of several fighting groups based on tribal and social affiliations, and eventually the total collapse of the state.”
“With the total breakdown of law and order,” the Liberia Peace Ambassador said, “Liberians were steered into the ugly situation as life in every part of the country became unsociable, horrible, inhuman and dumpy.”
He further said that at the time if such pre-conflict peace initiative been “honestly and vigorously embarked upon by peace minded Liberians, and supported by members of the international community, the nearly 15 years civil war would have been avoided.”
Under his leadership Weah believes that the LPI would stand in the gap.
According to him, in his preliminary talks with opinion leaders of both counties, the hunger for a peaceful coexistence became visible. Therefore, the longing for peace and harmony was glaring
He said citizens of both counties have accepted the need for collective security and acknowledge agreed that their individual and collective dreams for a prosperous future will not be hunted by the divide and differences that obtained between the late Doe and the late Quiwonkpah.
Additionally, he said, both counties seem to be resolved to let history remain history and that the future be built upon mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation.
“We are encouraged by these initial findings and determined to embark on the second phase; which involves traditional leaders, women groups, youth groups and other stakeholders from the two counties.”
The Peace Ambassador, however, cautioned citizens of both counties to come together to change the trajectory of Liberia towards a unified and a prosperous country.
For her part, American Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac urged Liberians to work together to assure that Liberia’s peace remains stable.
“As we have envisioned a violent-free Liberia, we must put aside our personal animosity where everyone has a role to play in the peace process,” Amb. Malac said.
She urged all parties involved to include women in the process, “because without one group of Liberia, the country cannot reach its goal of sustainable peace.”
Ambassador Malac reassured Liberians that the U.S Government and partners are committed to playing a positive role in the process of reuniting both counties.
“We are ready to play our role and we must be told our roles in re-solving this issue. But we as a government cannot determine what the future has to offer. However, we are ready to work with the Liberian people.”