26 November 2012

Liberia: Reconciliation, the Key to Peace in Liberia


RECONCILIATION AND DECENTRALIZATION are twin terms that can very often be very confusing to many people in Liberia. There are those who feel that as far as the concept of national reconciliation after 14 years of bitter civil conflict in this country is concerned, a lot remains to be done as reconciliation is a continuous process that involves healing the wounds of the past so as to ensure the necessary environment that ushers in peace and national development.

DECENTRALIZATION ON THE other hand is equally a socio-economic and political concept, but one that involves fairness, equity and the equal distribution and re-distribution of wealth and resources, accountability and transparency, social justice reforms and the like.

THIS IS WHY during last week's Information Ministry press conference, the Internal Affairs Minister did not only mention that government has allotted US$5million in the current annual budget for the purpose of forging reconciliation, but there is also about US$20 million for job creation and youth employment. In reality, it is difficult to reconcile a people that had been at loggerheads with one another in the absence of financial incentives.

LIBERIA HAS COME a long way in its reconciliation and decentralization drive. It can be recalled that as outlined in the TRC Report, reconciling a people entails lots of issues to address and tackle. As Minister nelson rightly pointed out, there is the thorny issue of ensuring that the concept of Liberia belonging to all Liberians on the basis of social justice, equity and transparency holds, considering that the notion of the exclusion of others and the inclusion of others when it comes to access to opportunities is well entrenched in the society.

IT IS A CONCEPT that cannot be erased overnight, not even during the era of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, when for the first time there is an unprecedented freedom of expression and efforts are underway to address the culture of impunity as well as a semblance of social justice. Certainly there are still those Liberians who feel that they are more Liberian than others.

IF ONE CONSIDERS the enormous initiatives undertaken by government meant to address the issues of social injustice, create jobs provide human and infrastructural development nationwide, all of which combine to facilitate lasting peace and reconciliation, one may be prompted to believe that indeed the spirit of national healing and reconciliation beyond the TRC Report level is on track.

WE URGE THAT government should remain focused on the development strides that it had embarked. It is a journey that will reconcile Liberia to its bitter and rocky past that was full of animosity, cheating, arbitrary arrests and detention as well as denial of the franchise to the vast majority. As Liberia moves into the transformation phase of development plan meant to make this country a middle income earning nation by the year 2030, it is time that Liberians realize that it is not the US$5million set for reconciliation that will usher in true reconciliation and decentralization.

MOREOVER, WE VIEW that real reconciliation and real decentralization comes when there is a transparent distribution of the national cake among the peoples of the 15 counties of Liberia and with visible signs of development in these counties. Real reconciliation and real decentralization also comes when roads and highways, modernized sea and airports, universities and colleges at affordable costs, and when the job creation ambitions of government on the basis of merit are realized.

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