President Weah Pays Tribute to MRU

Flashback: President George Weah at the UNGA.

-- Outlines strategies to overcome threats to sub-regional stability 

The President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, has highlighted the significant role the Mano River Union (MRU) has played over the years in the sustenance of peace, security, development, and democracy in the sub-region.

President Weah recalled that the MRU, founded in 1973, has effectively executed the task of maintaining peace and regional stability for the past five decades.

In a special statement delivered Monday, November 22, 2021, at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi County at the opening of the MRU Conference, President Weah observed that the MRU uses collaboration and cooperation in the realization of its goal. 

“In carrying out its mandate of promoting peace and regional stability amongst its four member states of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the Mano River Union has consistently collaborated and cooperated with ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations,” said the President at the well-attended conference.

The Liberian President however said the effective execution of the MRU mandate is presently being challenged by the porosity of borders, thereby permitting easy movements of small arms and light weapons, as well as contraband — something he noted has unfortunately facilitated cross-border crimes and other illegal operations.

“Part of our shared legacies is internal political discordance that historically caused the breakdown of democracy and governance at some point in each of the Member States of our sub-region,"  President Weah said. "These  unfortunate experiences must now inform our quest for durable diplomacy, peace, security, and democracy in the sub-region.”

The President expressed delight over the fact that the MRU is working with ECOWAS, UNOWAS, and other partners to revise its 2012 15th Protocol on Peace, Security, and Defense in order to address these scary threats. 

"This ECOWAS-MRU collaboration should be viewed as part of the ongoing ECOWAS and AU reform processes; in which the decentralization of regional and sub-regional responsibilities are undertaken to reduce cost and ensure the sustainability of peace, security, and democracy, at the local level of development," the Liberian Leader indicated.

According to him, the MRU-ECOWAS collaboration should support conflict management, resolution, and political transformation in Guinea as an added impetus to the proposed revision of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. 

He proposed the establishment of a merged ECOWAS-AU-MRU Mission, supported by the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund, to mediate in the current Guinean transitional arrangements being undertaken in Guinea.

“We urge the Secretary-General and the Secretariat of the Mano River Union to reach out to the African Union, United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and Peace Building Fund, to foster stronger and more active partnerships in peacebuilding initiatives for the Mano River Union,” President Weah asserted further, urging leaders of the sub-region to begin to examine the root causes and determinants of conflict and insecurity if they are to be successful in finding sustainable solutions for peace, security, stability, and democracy.

Such examination, President Weah maintained, should include addressing essential economic matters of growth and development; multi-dimensional poverty, lack of political inclusiveness, gender inequity, and youth unemployment.

The President also named potential threats of terrorism, extremism, climate change, epidemics, and pandemics such as Ebola and COVID-19, to name a few. 

“On the political front,” he said, “we must abide by constitutional term limits and guarantee political inclusion to avoid popular dissent that stifles the smooth transition of power and stability in our sub-region.”

The President called for the prudent utilization of all conflict management mechanisms developed by the MRU and ECOWAS to address the ongoing situation in Guinea, stressing that “Liberia has a natural interest in this process because of its interlinked historical, geographical, cultural, and socio-economic relationship with the People of the Republic of Guinea.”

President Weah emphasized the need for constant engagement with the political situation in Guinea for what he terms as "smooth transition to democratic elections and the resumption of constitutional order and democracy."

The President welcomed conference participants to Liberia and thanked his colleagues, Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire; and Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone for accepting and supporting Liberia’s proposal for convening this conference. 

He also thanked leaders of the MRU, AU, and the UN for lending support to the conference.

President Weah said he looks forward to the positive, practical, and innovative outcomes of this conference, which he believes will help accelerate the transitional process towards democratic governance in Guinea.

The gathering, which comes as a result of President Weah’s request, is dubbed ‘MRU Diplomatic, Peace, Security and Democracy Conference’.