La Côte d’Ivoire’s land borders, which were closed to Liberia due to the civil war a few years ago, are shortly to be reopened, Vice President Joseph Boakai has said.
VP Boakai made the disclosure on Tuesday, August 9, when he spoke at the 56th independence anniversary of La Côte d’Ivoire.
The VP, who represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told the Ivorian Ambassador and his compatriots that the opening of the borders will ensure the full implementation of La Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia Quadripartite Agreement with the support of the international community.
“We believe that this decision to reopen the borders between our two countries will create access to cross border trade, which has for ages served as a source of livelihood for many families in both countries.
“I envision that the strong ties of friendship and cooperation subsisting between our two countries will be further strengthened as we continue to explore new vistas of partnership,” the VP assured.
VP Boakai mentioned how satisfied he is that relations between the two countries have over many years transcended the temptation of sheer government to government interactions to a broad-based people-centered one.
“Since Cote d’Ivoire’s independence, successive heads of state of Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire have enjoyed very cordial personal relationships reflective of our shared values, common ethnicity and traditions.
“Although we both experienced the devastating effects of internecine conflicts and civil disturbances, we are now pursuing the path of peace through democratic governance, genuine reconciliation, reconstruction and respect for the rule of law.”
The VP assured the Ivoirian Ambassador that Liberia will remain committed to their shared goals for the mutual benefit of both peoples and countries.
Speaking earlier, the Ivoirian Ambassador, Dr. Feni Kouakou, thanked Liberia for hosting more than 250,000 Ivorian refugees, who fled to Liberia at the peak of the post-electoral crisis in 2010 – 2011.
“The concerted action of our two countries with support from the UNHCR (Cote d’Ivoire-Liberia-UNCHR) led to the signing of the tripartite Agreement in June 2013 for the voluntary repatriation of Ivoirian refugees,” the Ivorian Ambassador said.
He, however, urged the remaining 20,000 of his compatriots still in Liberia to return home in order to “benefit from the numerous programs in the socioeconomic make-up.”
On his country’s cordial relations with Liberia, Ambassador Kouakou stated that the vitality of the Ivoirian-Liberian cooperation is also seen in the area of security.
“Your government played an active role in the creation of the Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders (JCCEM) living along our common border. That original framework of concentration and dispute settlement between the brotherly people of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire is a unique chance that needs to be experimented in the sub region,” he added.
The first session of the Joint Council was held in October 2013 in Zwedru, and the second took place in January 2016 in Guiglo, La Cote d’Ivoire.
“Today, the economic domain remains a challenge in our cooperation and that is why you President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and your brother President Alassane Ouattara are working to organize, in the shortest possible time, the 6th Session of the Great Joint Commission of Ivoirian–Liberian Cooperation in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.”
Amb. Kouakou corroborated what the VP had said earlier about the reopening of the land borders, and assured that their side is “making all the necessary arrangements for (their) opening shortly.”
The program was well attended by senior government officials, including Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara; Gender Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell; and Monrovia City Mayor Clara Doe Mvogo; and envoys from the various diplomatic missions represented in Liberia.