Land Among Key Issues to Discuss at Chiefs, Elders Meeting in La Côté d’Ivoire

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One of the very important talking points to feature high in the three-day meeting in Guiglo, La Côté d’Ivoire, will be discussions on cross-border land-grabbing issues in Liberia’s southeastern bordering county of Grand Gedeh.

The Acting Internal Affairs Minister, Mr. Varney Sirleaf, made the disclosure to newsmen and women Tuesday, January 12, when he addressed the regular Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) press briefings.

He stated that reports of individuals crossing over from neighboring La Côté d’Ivoire and buying or occupying parcels of land in Grand Gedeh without any proper documents from local authorities are going to form a very important part of the discussions in the Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting in Guiglo, La Côté d’Ivoire.

According to the Acting Internal Affairs Minister, while the second round of the Chiefs and Elders Meeting, scheduled for January 16 – 18, 2016, is intended to further strengthen, promote and pursue the consolidation of cooperation, peace and security through regular cross-border meetings, the chiefs and elders are going to also discuss the cross-border land issues between some Burkinabes and Ivoiriens, who have allegedly crossed from La Côté d’Ivoire to occupy or buy parcels of land in Liberia’s Grand Gedeh County.

It can be recalled that in April of last year, officers of Liberia’s Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) arrested at least four Ivoiriens and two Burkinabes for illegally entering Liberia through an un-gazetted border crossing at Grand Gedeh.

The individuals were alleged to have been farming on Liberian soil.

According to Immigration officers, based on a tipoff from traditional hunters, officers of the Liberia National Police Emergency Response Unit (LNP/ERU) arrested the alleged intruders on cocoa farms in Bhai Administrative District forest region. The area, some residents of Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County say, is more than 20km into Liberia from the Cavalla River, which separates Liberia from La Côté d’Ivoire.

The BIN officers disclosed that only six men were arrested then, but there were than 40 persons illegally farming in the forest.

Minister Sirleaf hoped that the Meeting will try to address some the land issues in Grand Gedeh.

The first meeting between traditional leaders of both nations was held in Liberia in October 2013, with Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Alassane Ouatarra of La Côté d’Ivoire, attending in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. It brought together more than 100 chiefs and elders from bordering communities of both sisterly nations.

The date and venue of the Meeting, which is to take place in Western La Côté d’Ivoire, were agreed upon at the end of the Third Quadripartite with Liberia and La Côté d’Ivoire and the United Nations Missions in both nations.

Presidents Sirleaf and Ouattara are expected to also attend the upcoming meeting.

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