Officials of Government present,
Officials and Members of the Women’s Movement,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman,
Members of the Fourth Estate,
All other Protocols observed.
I am honored to be here this morning as we celebrate this years National Kukatornon Peace Festival Women’s Conference; arranged by the Liberia Crusaders for peace and the Women’s Movement of Liberia; indeed a worthy occasion that deserves celebration. This celebration today signifies the commitment made by the Liberian people more than 19 years ago to bring an end to the civil war; and to do all within our powers to promote sustainable peace and genuine reconciliation in Liberia; as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed on August 18, 2003 in Accra, Ghana.
Permit me a moment to give our thanks and appreciation to all of those who have in one way or the other contributed to this 19 year journey.
- Firstly to the Almighty God, our maker and sustainer; for his mercy and grace which has brought us this far. To HIM alone we give the utmost praise.
- To the people of Liberia, especially the women of Liberia (from all walks of life) who decided that peace was better than war. And that ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH. Who in many ways have sustained this peaceful environment.
- To the Ecowas members States who intervened in the civil crisis at many levels; civil, military and regional engagements which provided spaces for dialogues and compromises. We honor them again today for going beyond the call of duty which led to the loss of many, many lives.
Pls stand for a moment with me – as we remember the sacrifices made.
I thank you.
- To our international Partners and friends of Liberia; who have and continue to; bring their resources, both human and material; and who have remained engaged; no matter how difficult the road has been; with the LIBERIAN PLAN FOR SUSTAINED PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT. Permit me to, on behalf of H. E. President George Manneh Weah; our Government and the peace loving people of Liberia to say from the bottom of my heart – WE THANK YOU.
And last but never the least:
- Our Government, led by our President; H. E. President Weah; the 3 branches of Government, all Civil Society Organizations and the Religious Community of Faith who have played their Roles in more ways than one, in an attempt to sustain the Peace of our beloved Liberia.
Excellencies, Honored Guest, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman; as we celebrate 19 years of Peace, Democracy and Development; I am of the opinion that the following decisions are being upheld:
- There will be no more WAR within and without our Borders; for we know that WARS DO NOT SETTLE THE ISSUES OF LIFE; AND THE COST ARE TOO HIGH FOR ANY NATION AND PEOPLE TO BEAR.
- That our collective Institutions will uphold the tenents of Good Governance; and utilize all other means at their disposal – short of WAR; in line with the RULE OF LAW; to discuss burning issues; in order to chart the ROAD MAP for the forward movement of our nation.
- That our Government, will continue to do its best to uphold the Rule of Law; encourage dialogues with all segments of our society; and continue to work to sustain the Peace; keeping in mind the words of Former UN Secretary General – Kofi Annan; who said and I quote:
“The will of the people must be the basis of governmental authority. That is the foundation of democracy. That is the foundation of good governance.”
As we each remember; the many years of internal conflict; which probably began with the decision of some of the Chiefs, many years ago, to sell their brothers into slavery; it has been a long journey indeed. But thankfully; after 175 years of existence; our Democratic Nation, the first in Africa, is alive and on the path to building a BETTER NATION FOR ALL LIBERIANS.
This statement does not mean that – ALL IS OK AND THERE ARE NO ISSUES. Indeed even in Families, Communities and Organizations – there are issues. But these issues are being discussed; options for peaceful resolutions being considered; and consensus being built for the greater good of ourselves and posterity. Let me say without FEAR or FAVOR – that no matter the differences or no matter the circumstances- WE MUST REMAIN ON THE PATH OF PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE; Which must be both a personal and National commitment of ALL LIBERIANS; AT HOME AND ABROAD.
Excellencies, Honored Guest, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman; as we celebrate 19 years of Peaceful Coexistence and Democracy; it is important to consider the times and seasons we are in.
For in 13 months we, as a nation will go to Presidential and Legislative Elections. In most nations across the World; this period can be a challenging one. It is my prayer that – WE WILL EXERCISE THE RIGHTS GIVEN BY THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION, TO ENGAGE THIS PROCESS IN A FREE, FAIR AND TRANSPARENT MANNER; SO THAT THE WILL OF THE VOTERS WILL BE UPHELD.
This means that – each part of the puzzle must play their part; according to the Rule of Law. I therefore add my voice to the many who have spoken on this and other matters; by asking all within the 3 branches of government to exercise their roles and responsibilities in a manner which will ensure the maintenance of the Peace and Security of our Nation; and to our International partners to assist in this process by ensuring that all of their commitments are met; so that Liberia will be able to hold its constitutional elections on time.
In furtherance of this desired goal; permit me to highlight issues of Concern:
- Increased Women’s Political Participation (a necessary ingredient for inclusion and participation of 50% of the Population).
- The need to ensure that marginalized groupings are fully represented.
- The need to provide a safe space free from violence during the electoral process; especially for females contestants.
- The need to ensure the reduction of SGBV across our Nation.
- The need to ensure that the electoral process is free, fair and transparent.
- The need to ensure that our Government and its partners continue to be engaged with solving the issues of concern and development of our people.
- The need during this Bicentennial Celebration to put in measures to include all of Liberia’s tribes and groupings – including the Congos, the Americo Liberian, the Fulas, the Sarpo and any other tribe not included on the list of tribes of Liberia.
- The need to adjust the words of our National Motto to read – the Love Liberty brought us together.
- And last but never least; let me reiterate that Good governance is a responsibility of all well-meaning Liberians and not just Government alone. Which means that this democratic environment should and must imperatively exclude political maneuvers to remove a constitutionally elected Government; especially when the process to decide same is ongoing and the opportunities for others to participate in this process is opened to
Excellencies, Honored Guest, Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman; as we celebrate this milestone 19th Anniversary; and look towards a brighter future for All Liberians and that of our neighbors; that we, as a people have accepted that our governance process will uphold the tenets of democracy. Though this process is not perfect in itself; but we acknowledge that this process is necessary. Not only to provide an environment for peaceful coexistence but it is necessary for the protection of the fundamental rights which enable each human to be FREE; within the confines of the Rule of Law.
For at the end of the day, the issue is not who has won or who has lost; but it is to ensure that LIBERIA WINS AND CONTINUES ON THIS PATH OF PEACE and DEVELOPMENT, under the RULE OF LAW.
As I conclude my remarks please let me leave you with these 2 quotes of sobering words from one of Africa’s best Sons Kofi Annan, which should set our hearts at ease. He said and I quote:
“It is transparent and accountable institutions, not ‘strong men’ or strong leaders, that safeguard democracy and create the conditions for peace and prosperity.” –
“Democracy is not just about elections, rather, democracy is first and foremost about laws and institutions that guarantee the rights of its citizens, and respects, even protects, religious freedom”
As we continue the path of peaceful Coexistence here at home and amongst our neighbors; let us keep in mind that we each have the responsibility to ensure that we build STRONG INSTITUTIONS which will ensure that – we go beyond the ideals of MEN to the ideals of BUILDING STRONGER INSTITUTIONS which will guarantee the peace of all.
To the women of Liberia and those from or sub-region; I salute you for your commitment and fortitude to ensuring that our REGION remains free from violence and conflict. Your roles are more necessary today than before. For with your sheer numbers across our region of being about 50% of the population – you can coordinate and pull your human and capital resources to elect more women to elected offices. We should no longer be women Chairladies who rally support for all male elected positions and complain when they do not fulfill your expectations. It is time FOR WOMEN TO SUPPORT FEMALE CANDIDATES so we reach the constitutional mandate for equal rights for all. It is then and only then the dynamics of nations in our sub-region will change to reflect the inclusion of all for the peace and development of our nations.
I thank you.
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