5 December 2012

Liberia: Ellen Meets Political Party Leaders

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has held a meeting with leaders of registered political parties on the National Vision 2030 document, which will be debated at a National Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County, from December 10-12, 2012.

At the well-attended meeting on Monday, President Sirleaf welcomed the political party leaders, and used the occasion to introduce the National Vision 2030, an undertaking that began in 2010 and has now reached the stage where it is to be discussed at a National Conference.

"We've tried to put together where our country is today, and where we want it to be tomorrow," President Sirleaf said, adding that the whole exercise came out of a robust consultative process.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf informed political party leaders that the National Vision 2030 is derived from a series of regional, district and Diaspora consultations, in addition to some technical underpinnings, to ensure that what is said is not about aspirations and expectations, but is grounded in professional studies from four different but interrelated perspectives, including the country's demography, economy, social structures and governance.

"After these consultations, you are the first group that we are coming to discuss it with. The idea is to present this to the public shortly," the Liberian leader said.

Providing an overview, the Chairman of the Governance Commission and a sponsor of the process, Dr. Amos Sawyer, said initial discussions on National Vision 2030 took place throughout the country, including the 156 administrative districts and all sectors of society.

He said the involvement of all Liberians, among them, political parties and youths, was intended to ensure that this Vision is owned and implemented by Liberians as the National Vision 2030 is meant to go beyond the current administration.

The National Vision 2030 is not a blueprint and a set of specific policy recommendations, Dr. Sawyer explained. "Rather, it is a framework to say, we Liberians, over the next 20 years, this is where we want to go. We may have variations in policies from one administration to another, but on the overall directions, we will all reach one understanding about it," Dr. Sawyer stated, reminding political party leaders that this Vision can only be successful as a national effort.

Dr. Sawyer stressed that the Conference Organizing Committee did not want to only brief political party leaders about the National Vision 2030, but to make sure that it is sufficiently understood by the senior leaders of political parties as the idea of this Vision goes beyond one single administration; thus, it should involve everybody and should be embraced by everybody.

Providing insight about next Monday's Conference, a co-Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee, Dr. Elwood Dunn, said the Committee has prepared a 25-page summary of a bigger document that looks at two broad areas: all of the major studies that have been done to provide the knowledge for the Vision exercise, as well as the consultations that were done across the country and the Diaspora.

"The purpose is to lay this before the Liberian people and say to them, we have consulted broad and wide, and these are some of the tentative conclusions from this exercise and we are here to solicit your support," he said. At the end of the exercise, they would end up with about a five-page document that would reflect not only what is in the original document but the concerns, questions, views and perspectives that will be expressed at the Conference itself, he explained.

Dr. Dunn said that once the exercise is over and conclusions are derived, this will constitute the framework that will be called the Vision for Liberia. "This entire exercise is an attempt to allow us the opportunity to determine where we stand today as a people," Dr. Dunn said, noting that it is time for a national stock-taking, to determine where we are, figure out where we want to go, and appreciate the complication associated with moving forward.

Dr. Dunn also informed the gathering that two other documents will be highlighted at the Conference: an Agenda for Transformation and a Reconciliation Roadmap.

In a spirited exchange and with cordiality, political party leaders engaged the members of the Conference Organizing Committee to get clarity on their concerns. They also provided constructive suggestions.

Concluding, President Sirleaf informed the political leaders that with the National Conference Committee launching the Reconciliation Roadmap, Ambassador George Weah has consented to work with the government as "Peace Ambassador," and will assist with reconciliation efforts. He will put together his own Plan of Action as to how he will proceed.

The President said over several months, the National Steering Committee, with technical assistance from the United Nations system and others, has put together the Reconciliation Roadmap with much more specifics as to how it will be achieved.

In attendance at the meeting were: the National Chairman of the Congress for Democratic Change, Mr. George Solo; the National Chairman of the Unity Party, Cllr. Varney Sherman; the National Chairman of the National Patriotic Party, Cllr. Theophilus Gould; the National Chairman of the Liberty Party, Mr. Fonati Koffa; the National Chairman of the Alliance of Political Parties, Dr. Marcus Dahn; among others.

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