GOL Launches Peace, Reconciliation Initiative

The Government of Liberia has issued a statement ahead of the official launched the National Peace and Reconciliation initiative with a called to all Liberians to see that their differences do not really make them different but make them all Liberians.

Speaking in Monrovia yesterday at special press conference, Information Minister Lewis G. Brown II said “Now, the world sees us differently. It is time to see ourselves differently.”

The Information Boss said “it is time to see that our differences do not really make us different – they make us Liberians. For Liberia is really the coming together of our differences – that each of us is really a piece of the whole.”

Minister further said “it is time to see that we can lift ourselves up without necessarily putting others down. For by putting others down, we put ourselves down. And by putting our country down, we put ourselves down.”

Minister Brown said it is time to let go of the pain, the hatred and the anger – to genuinely heal ourselves and to mend the wounds of our nation.

“It is time to honor our history. It is time to honor our heroes and heroines. It is time to accept who we are and why we are. it is time to reach for the skies of our dreams – to accept that we are a nation borne out of extraordinary hope and uncommon courage, and that if we shed the negative prophecies with which we have grown to be accustomed, and commit ourselves to work for the good of our country, there is no aspiration we cannot meet, no difficulty we cannot overcome, and no dream we cannot fulfill,” the Information Minister said in a serious mood.

Earlier, Minister Brown said to transition Liberia from war to peace necessarily requires rebuilding from scratch.

The government’s mouth piece said close to thirty years of conflict sheds its consequence on a nation; and worse still, dulls the enthusiasm of a people and a new leadership must therefore deal equally with the hard issues of infrastructure as it must the soft issues which drove the conflict as well as the associated traumas, grieves, losses, pains, suspicions, and hatreds which flow naturally out of wars.

“In effect, the transition from war to peace necessarily means the transformation of our society from the discredited model of exclusionary and unaccountable governance to a new model of inclusion, openness and accountability,” he continued.

Minister Brown told journalist at the press conference held at the Information Ministry that it means reaching beyond differences in gender, tribe, age, religion and associations and building enduring partnerships of trust and mutual respect.

“It means giving continued deference to traditions and customs while lifting the veil on taboos that infringed on individual rights and it means spreading the virtue of freedoms – freedom of speech and of worship – and ensuring the protection of all other rights and liberties to which all are entitled” Mr. Brown said.

The Information Minister also said it means returning Liberia to respect in the comity of nations – working to change international characterizations such as pariah and failed state with which the country had come to be known into post-conflict success and emerging democracy for which Liberians are now known. SEE FULL TEXT OF STATEMENT BELOW:

Official Statement Of The Government Of Liberia Ahead Of The Launch Of The National Peace And Reconciliation Initiative, Read By the Information Minister Lewis G. Brown, II

Monrovia, June 18, 2013: About ten years ago, we agreed to start over. With the help of the international community, and the assistance of our sub-regional neighbors, from the safe surroundings of a neighboring Capital, Liberians hammered out a peace deal which impressed the world that we were ready to move ahead – ready to right the wrongs of the past; ready to lay firmer foundations for a brighter future; and ready to plant new markers for peace, security and prosperity.

Imperfect as the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement was, it gave us a chance to reflect and the space to reexamine our duties to each other. It also gave us the opportunity to build a new society in which each of us would be challenged not only to part with old habits which brought us to self-destruction but also to embrace the changes that would be needed to start anew.

Some, including many of our friends, were cautious and even doubtful of our commitment to a new beginning. It is understandable. Firstly, individually as well as collectively, the road to doing the right thing after doing the wrong thing for so long is a more difficulty path to travel. And secondly, the global statistics pointed to a high possibility of our country slipping back into conflict. Many hotspots around the world had seen their peace deals shattered and their countries sadly returned to conflict.

But our peace deal, reliant as it was on international support counted, above all else, on the goodwill and resolve of the Liberian people. In this regard, we would disarm and demobilize even without all of the promises in place for the disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and repatriation programs. And notwithstanding all of the attending capacity and structural problems, we would conduct democratic elections and finally set our country on the path to its transition from war to peace.

To transition our country from war to peace necessarily requires rebuilding from scratch. Close to thirty years of conflict sheds its consequence on a nation; and worse still, dulls the enthusiasm of a people. A new leadership must therefore deal equally with the hard issues of infrastructure as it must the soft issues which drove the conflict as well as the associated traumas, grieves, losses, pains, suspicions, and hatreds which flow naturally out of wars.

In effect, the transition from war to peace necessarily means the transformation of our society from the discredited model of exclusionary and unaccountable governance to a new model of inclusion, openness and accountability.

It means reaching beyond differences in gender, tribe, age, religion and associations and building enduring partnerships of trust and mutual respect. It means giving continued deference to traditions and customs while lifting the veil on taboos that infringed on individual rights. It means spreading the virtue of freedoms – freedom of speech and of worship – and ensuring the protection of all other rights and liberties to which all are entitled.

It means returning our country to respect in the comity of nations – working to change international characterizations such as pariah and failed state with which our country had come to be known into post-conflict success and emerging democracy for which we are now known.

It also means building the roads and the bridges to connect our villages, towns and counties so as to ease the burdens of bringing our people closer together and to move their goods and services at lesser costs. It means building schools, community colleges and technical and vocational training centers to build the capacities of our people even as we train new teachers and remodel the curriculum to improve the quality of the education and its relevance to our needs.

It means building clinics and hospitals even as we find and train doctors, nurses and other health workers to deliver the needed services to our people. It means creating jobs to return our people to self-dignity, self-reliance and self-responsibility for their future.

It means dredging our ports and extending our piers in presenting our country as a useful destination for the transshipment of goods and services throughout our sub-region. It means redesigning and extending power and other basic services to homes and businesses as a means of expanding the economy; of lifting entrepreneurial spirit; and of making the economy to work for all Liberians.

It means making the justice system fairer and accessible – balancing issues of gender and equality and giving unto all the right to security, due process and the full value of their citizenship so that each Liberian can aspire to be the best that their natural potential can afford. It means replacing lawlessness with lawfulness and protecting the rights of individuals and communities to the peaceful enjoyment of their lands and other properties.

It also means tackling and redefining the way we have grown used to doing our business by reforming existing laws, procedures and processes and building strong watchdog and integrity institutions as well as providing incentives for good behavior and punishments for acts of proven wrong.

And, across the three branches of our government, it means thinking creatively and acting differently.

Indeed, the road to avoiding a relapse into conflict – the path to sustaining our peace – has been predictably difficult. But we have come a long way travelling along that road.

Ten years and two democratic elections later, while we do have many bumps and hurdles over which we are still to travel, emboldened by what we have achieved together, and encouraged by where we find ourselves as we look back to where we once were, we know we must continue to walk along this difficult path of sustaining our peace. We must continue to reconcile our duties to each other and to our country, and work to consolidate our emerging democracy.

Ten years later, contingents of our Armed Forces of Liberia is being deployed as peacekeepers in Mali confirming the transformation of the image of our country from so-called exporters of conflict to exporters of peace.

Yes, we have done well. Truly, we have come a long way.

And the world is noticing our steady progress.

In our neighborhood, where we were once regarded as the source of instability, Liberia has been unanimously returned to the chairmanship of the Mano River Union with the important duties of helping our once troubled region maintain its hard-earned peace, mutual security and investments in the economic development and integration of our peoples and markets.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia along with David Cameron of Great Britain and Sisulo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia were asked by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to co-chair the development of a post-2015 Global Agenda Framework. Economic Transformation, the means through which the world intends to tackle global poverty was the selected theme of the Monrovia Meeting in which discussions were held around issues of fairer trade, transparency, accountability, infrastructural development, regionalization and broader inclusion of the people in economic decision making.

At the African Union, while some have argued the role of Liberia in the formation of the Organization of African Unity, the country has been named to head two important institutions through which the future of the continent will be guarded. The Liberian President has been unanimously named to chair the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the African High Level Panel which brings together Presidents from the regions that make up the continent in order to develop a common position on the post-2015 Global Development Agenda Framework.

Indeed, the world is noticing Liberia’s steady progress.

During the Opening Program of the Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD), the President of the World Bank pronounced to the world, in the presence of at least thirty African Heads of State and Governments that global poverty was falling at the rate of 1.3% annually. He identified and praised the standout efforts of Liberia and Mozambique, and in a bilateral meeting, pledged the Bank’s immediate increased support to help Liberia with its energy program.

And for the first time, a Liberian President has been invited to a meeting by the chair of the Group of Eight which comprises the world’s largest economies excluding China to attend and address the Group of Eight on issues of trade, taxes and transparency.

Of course this is a credit to the President. But it is also a credit to our country. When President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is asked to lead or participate in the world’s search for answers to critical questions with which our global village is confronted, she leads and participates for Liberia. She shows us in a different light which is not just worthy of the respect of our neighbors, our continent and the world-at-large but also a much-needed projection of our country’s true legacy and history.

Helping the world to find answers to troubling challenges is a truer representation of who we are and why we exist. When the founding fathers established the Republic and declared our independence to the world, they commanded us, by their action and their will, to lift up our country into remaining a light to illuminate the paths of freedom and liberty for ourselves and all who may stand in need.

When President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to the world, she speaks for our country. She reveals who we truly are – that notwithstanding our checkered experiences, our humanity is favored with a resurgent spirit which has allowed us to rise from the ashes of our self-destruction. She tells our story – a truly heartwarming story of winning against the odds. And she invites the world to continue to invest in our post-conflict success.

Now, the world sees us differently.

It is time to see ourselves differently.

It is time to see that our differences do not really make us different – they make us Liberians. For Liberia is really the coming together of our differences – that each of us is really a piece of the whole. Yes, we do complete each other. It is time to see that we can lift ourselves up without necessarily putting others down. For by putting others down, we put ourselves down. And by putting our country down, we put ourselves down.

It is time to let go of the pain, the hatred and the anger – to genuinely heal ourselves and to mend the wounds of our nation.

It is time to honor our history. It is time to honor our heroes and heroines. It is time to accept who we are and why we are.

Finally, it is time to reach for the skies of our dreams – to accept that we are a nation borne out of extraordinary hope and uncommon courage, and that if we shed the negative prophecies with which we have grown to be accustomed, and commit ourselves to work for the good of our country, there is no aspiration we cannot meet, no difficulty we cannot overcome, and no dream we cannot fulfill.

 May God bless our Republic.

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