The representative of Electoral District #2, Montserrado County, Sekou S. Kanneh, has described as the "beginning of failure" the alleged exclusion of Muslims from the reconciliation team set up recently.
Newly appointed National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) chairperson, opposition politician George M. Weah, last week, named 11 prominent persons to assist in the implementation of the objectives of the commission.
Mr. Weah, amidst controversy mainly among his followers, replaced 2011 co-Nobel Peace laureate, Leymah Gbowee, who abandoned the post alleging impropriety in government and lack of support to the commission.
According to the Montserrado lawmaker, no amount of efforts exerted can achieve total peace and reconciliation if one segment of the society is deliberately left out of the reconciliation process.
"You cannot say you want to reconcile the nation if you deliberately leave a segment, especially an important portion of the society, out of the process," he said.
He believes that not including Muslims on the Secretariat of the Reconciliation Committee represents a significant and inevitable beginning of failure considering the country's history over the decades.
The Analyst was unable to contact the NRC chair for comment. However, observers say the nation will succeed in its reconciliation drive only if it avoids demands for sectarian entitlements such as that which the lawmaker is demanding.
"The war in Liberia was not about religion; public officials should therefore not seek to search for peace and reconciliation through sectarian, political, communal, religious, or whatever representation," said one observer who spoke with this paper over the weekend.
He said it is insistence on sectarian entitlement that is the false start, not the exclusion of certain religious interests.
After all, he contended, if Weah's team comprises Christians, Buddhists, animists, or atheists, one things that is sure is that he did not appoint them as representatives of these religious group. "If that is the case, which denomination of the many competing sects represents the Christians?" he asked rhetorically.
Meanwhile, analysts say as initial step, NRC needs to organize national debate on whether the search for peace in Liberia requires consideration for sectarian entitlement in order to put to rest the expectation of sectarian advocates like Rep. Kanneh.
"Kenneh is not alone; he presents a silent majority of community, opinion, political, and tribal leaders who seek to maintain their relevance in claiming disadvantage and exclusion. If he succeeds, we will have tribal and other advocates coming out to make their claims for inclusion. Can NRC afford a reconciliation secretariat that comprises representatives of the 16 tribes, 22 political parties, 50 or so civil society organizations, and representatives of the media, youth groups, and hundreds of religious groupings, if entitlement becomes a criterion for balance?" they wonder.