Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Lewis Garseedah Brown, II says government is growing concern about a US$17 million funding gap for the implementation of the activities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and is seeking continued partnership and support to sustain its peace and continued needed reforms.
“So far, out of the US$45 million requested by the NEC, the Liberian government has committed to the payment of US$20 million and the international community has committed about US$8 million. The difference is yet to be committed,” he said.
According to a dispatch from Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, briefing the United Nations Security Council Tuesday, June 27, on the Thirty-Third Progress Report of the Secretary General on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ambassador Brown said Liberia has concluded the inclusive development of a Peacebuilding Plan consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2333, but needed support for its implementation.
The Peacebuilding Plan among others things identified key actions to be taken before March 30, 2018 when UNMIL’s mandate ends; as well as actions to sustain the peace when UNMIL leaves.
Amb. Brown, however, observed that political will of the Government of Liberia may not necessarily be enough to see the process through and urged the international community to continue its support to ensure that Liberia presents a success story with peacebuilding as it did with peacekeeping.
Liberia’s top diplomat at the United Nations described the successful conduct of peaceful democratic elections as crucial to the sustenance of peace in Liberia and assured that the Government and people of Liberia are committed to ensuring a smooth transition.
“The mere exercise of the choice to freely and fairly elect the leaders of our country, with a sense of growing regularity and confidence in both the electoral processes and the associated outcomes, meaningfully contributes to deepening a new culture of peace, lends itself to democratic governance and expressions, empowers ordinary citizens and keeps the elected leaders duly accountable,” the Liberian Ambassador to the UN stressed; adding, “We intend to continue along this path – resolve the attending irregularities, improve upon the imperfections and deepen public confidence not only in the usefulness of democratic elections but also in the sustainable values of democratic transitions and governance.”
Amb. Brown acknowledged that the sub-region is increasing the space for democratic governance and the peaceful transition of power. “Given the shared history and sociology of our region which makes it relatively easy to experience the spread of conflict and misery across our borders, so too, is peace and a renewed commitment to democratic governance, admittedly with obvious challenges, overtaking the sub-regional space of ECOWAS.
Consequently, a successful conduct of peaceful democratic elections in Liberia will continue to pave the way for other important successes in expanding the democratic space across the West African sub-region as well as significantly impacting the consolidation of regional peace and security,” Brown stressed.
He further stressed that Liberia intends to continue along the path of peace; evidenced by the latest actions taken by the NEC to resolve irregularities, improve upon the imperfections and deepen public confidence not only in the usefulness of democratic elections but also in the sustainable values of democratic transitions and governance.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Farid Zarif appealed to the UN system and other international partners to increase and consolidate their investment in Liberia to support the country during this crucial transition and beyond.
SRSG Zarif told the Security Council that while Liberia has remained stable with no major threat envisaged during the October elections, the country still faces considerable challenges that weigh heavily on efforts to sustain peace and advance national reconciliation.
He noted that critical legislative reforms that could address the root causes of the civil conflict especially the Land Rights Bill, Local Governance Bill and Domestic Violence Bill were yet to be enacted.
Mr. Zarif informed the Security Council that sustaining peace in Liberia will require long term investment in national institutions that are inclusive, accountable and responsive to all Liberians.
On the pending presidential and legislative elections, the SRSG disclosed that UNMIL has intensified its engagement with the NEC, political parties, presidential candidates, government and civil society to prevent diffuse tension and advocate for credible and peaceful elections.
He observed that Liberia’s future as a stable democracy will hinge upon the successful conduct of the October elections and a smooth transfer of power.
The Chair of the Liberia Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Olof Skoog of Sweden, also spoke of the need to ensure that the October elections are successful.
Amb. Skoogs, who recently concluded a visit to Liberia, acknowledged that the country currently has limited fiscal space to drive reform and urged that the issue of the funding gap for the conduct of the elections be addressed with urgency as well as controversies surrounding the Code of Conduct.
Other speakers including the Permanent Representatives of Senegal and Uruguay, Fode Seck and Elbio Oscar Rosselli Frieri respectively, also echoed the need for support to Liberia’s electoral and peacebuilding processes.
This was the UN Security Council’s first formal meeting on Liberia since the adoption of resolution 2333. The negotiations leading up to the adoption of that resolution were difficult and unusual in that both France and the UK joined Russia in abstaining on a US-drafted resolution, which received the support of 12 Council members. During the negotiations on the draft, the US maintained that UNMIL should remain in Liberia until the beginning of 2018, which would ensure the mission’s presence during the October 2017 presidential elections and the subsequent transition of power to a new president. France, the UK and Russia advocated a more immediate withdrawal of UNMIL, given that they shared the view that the situation in the country does not pose a threat to peace and security.