US-Based Liberian Journalist Calls for National Reconciliation Conference

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Mr. Charles Crawford: "Let Liberians decide on war crimes court, others at a national peace and reconciliation conference"

Charles Crawford, a former Liberian journalist now based in the United States of America, has called on President George Manneh Weah’s government to see reason and call for a “National Reconciliation Conference,” which he (Crawford) thinks will provide a platform for citizens to decide the country’s post-war destiny.

The former Inquirer Newspaper reporter, now Executive Director for Center for Conflict Prevention and Peace Building (CECPAP), Maryland, United States of America, yesterday told the Daily Observer that until a national forum for deciding on those things that should be considered for the country is made available for representatives of all of the 15 political subdivisions, Liberia will continue to be backward.

“It will be one of President Weah’s greatest achievements if he succeeds in organizing a national peace and reconciliation conference from where may come good suggestions. A suggestion like establishing a war crimes court for Liberia is not something to throw under the carpet; let the people decide,” he said.

He said the Unity Party (UP)-led government under former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf failed to reconcile the country and, as such, Weah’s government should not follow suit.

“It is globally known that former President Sirleaf said that her government failed to reconcile the country. Now is time for Weah to take cue from his predecessor’s shortfalls and do better to make Liberia a safe haven for not only its citizens but the many other people from across the world who seek a free and prosperous society,” Crawford said.

According to him, peace cannot be sustained when the hearts of people affected by a particular tragedy are not appeased constructively.

“We all grew up here and saw the terrible happenings brought on all of us by the war. We felt the horrors and suffered untold consequences. We want a mutual coexistence in our country but let it not be at the expense of justice,” he noted.

CECPAP’s executive director further said the CDC-led government should strengthen the Peace Building Office in the country, to conduct community dialogues wherein people will recommend the way forward in dealing with tribal or sectional related conflicts.

About the work of his organization in the U.S. and his plan to establish a branch in his home country, Liberia, he said his visit is to engage government on providing him the chance by means of allowing his organization’s “incorporation credentials.”

“CECPAP has conflict prevention, dispute resolution and peace education as three of the pillars directed at keeping peace and ensuring a harmonious coexistence among any given population that is challenged with finding amicable solutions to its general problems,” he said.

Crawford added that CECPAP, as a peace building organization, is involved with directing efforts in preventing neighbors from going to court, most especially when their conflict can be resolved without court proceedings.

“The peace education component of our organization, as we are doing in the U.S., will be focusing on engaging the student community, ranging from the University of Liberia to grade schools across the country. We believe that when students understand the importance of peace through the application of what they learn, they will have the passion to share with others the paramount reasons why school campuses and communities should be peaceful,” he pointed out.

Crawford is a graduate of conflict resolution studies from George Mason University in Athens, Atlanta Georgia. He traveled to the U.S. in 2007 on a donor conference but was blessed to have received an acceptance to stay for studies. Since his graduation with a Master of  Science (MSc.) degree in conflict studies and resolution with emphasis in the rule of law in 2017, he has been engaged with promoting peace in Maryland and many other States in America.

Before last year, he earned two bachelor’s degrees  in May, 2013  in political science and conflict analysis from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and is a candidate of Master of Public Policy (MPP) at George Mason University.

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