In Recognition of Retired Liberian Diplomat, AU Ambassador Stresses Significance of Integration

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The Ambassador of the African Union (AU) Commission and representative of the Chairperson in Liberia, Harrison Oluwatoyin Solaja, has stressed the need for Liberia to continue on par with integration and peace and to avoid actions that will undermine its stability.
Ambassador Solaja’s message was contained in a speech he delivered as a guest lecturer at the 6th Ambassadorial Lecture series of the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute on August 26.
The occasion also marked the honoring ceremony for one of Liberia’s retired diplomats, E. Sumo Jones.
Acknowledging that integration allows a country to interact with others for mutual economic and social benefits, Ambassador Solaja named peace and security, trade among others as some of the rewards.
He said Liberia contributed to troops in the Congo in the 1960s and is now contributing troops in Mali to restore stability in that region.
Liberia played crucial roles in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU), West African grouping ECOWAS and the Mano River Union (MRU), respectively, he recalled.
Liberia is signatory to the Maputo protocol which calls for the declaration of women’s rights and many other human rights protocols on the continent, he added.
He emphasized that with integration and foreign relations, which involve interacting with other countries to sustain peace, security and promote socio-economic activities, a country can have control over cross border criminal activities.
Ambassador Solaja referred to the roles of ECOWAS during the civil war and that of AU in the Ebola crisis as support that Liberia can count on. African solidarity, the Ambassador noted, is meant to get Africans to first identify with one another before an African country can begin to solicit help from other countries across the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea or the Indian Ocean.
He indicated that with the existence of the AU and other regional bodies on the continent, Africans can unite through integration and build better foreign relations that will allow sharing of ideas.
He called on the Liberian Government to provide sound education for Liberian youths to prepare them for employment opportunities and prevent them from reverting to the violent activities they may have engaged in during the war years.
Ambassador Jones, on being honored said retiring from the Foreign Service without blemish was worth the commendation.
He said despite the tough times associated with the job, it is difficult for those in the service to receive compliments.
He suggested that for the knowledge of experienced diplomats not to be wasted after their retirement, an association or think tank of retired ambassadors should be established to serve in a consultancy capacity providing information and ideas that will help breed upcoming diplomats.
Earlier, the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute Director, Dr. Augustine Konneh said upon taking over the institute, he organized the forum in consultation with former Foreign Minister, Olubanki King Akerele, to highlight diplomacy and African Development.
E. Sumo Jones having served as an Ambassador in Guinea and performed various functions in government, Dr. Konneh said they deemed it expedient to honor him so that he can receive his flowers while living.
Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan, in his statement reinforced the standpoint that Liberians should learn to show gratitude to public servants and others when they do well, and not reserve praises for people until they have gone to the great beyond.
The lecture attracted hundreds of foreign diplomats, government officials and students of the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute.

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