President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has officially launched the National Palava Hut Program meant to promote and consolidate lasting peace and harmony throughout Liberia.
The Liberian leader launched the Palava hut program Saturday, October 19 in Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County in the presence of her Ivoirian counterpart President Alassane Ouattara, traditional leaders, elders, and diplomats accredited near Monrovia, women and youth groups and other guests from both Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.
Quoting President Sirleaf, an Executive Mansion release said "The launch of this program is meant to promote lasting togetherness thus ensuring that the peace and harmony that has prevailed in our country for the past ten years is maintained."
Speaking at the Zwedru Administrative Building over the weekend, the Liberian leader said the program will further consolidate the country's peace and democracy. The process is to be spearheaded by the Independent National Commission on Human Rights or INCHR, the Mansion said.
She called on all Liberians including the traditional leaders, elders, civil society, political parties, religious groups, and others to join the effort as all of them have a part to play in the process of ensuring lasting peace and harmony in the country, the sub-region, the continent and the world.
Article 10, Section 46, of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or TRC Act mandated the INCHR to ensure implementation of the TRC's recommendations.
In 2009, the erstwhile TRC recommended the establishment of the National Palava Hut Program as a means for redressing outstanding traditional grievances and for fostering national healing, social cohesion and reconciliation through dialogue at the community and grassroots levels.
The program, according to the Executive Mansion, will afford anyone who whether knowingly or unknowingly committed any wrongful act against an individual or the state during the Liberian civil war, to admit the wrongful act and seek pardon from the people of Liberia through the Palava Hut.
The recommendation has been lifted as one of the thematic areas of the strategic roadmap for national healing, peace-building and reconciliation - a national framework aimed at reconciling Liberians. The program will also be undertaken by the National Human Rights Commission.
In response, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said he was impressed with the process and noted that it was very important to continue to reinforce peace and reconciliation.
He recapped both countries' experiences of civil conflict, and said he was impressed by President Sirleaf's commitment to ensuring that peace and reconciliation is achieved throughout Liberia.
"In launching this event, I would like to congratulate you, thank you and encourage all of you," he said.
Through his Ambassador near Monrovia Kapieletien Soro, President Ouattara made a personal contribution of US$10,000 to the INCHR.
Earlier, the INCHR Acting Chairman, Mr. Boakai Dukuly, reiterated that the launch of the Palava Hut Program was only one of the significant steps taken in the process of post-conflict reconciliation, peace-building and national unity.
He said other stages will include the conduct of a three-day technical forum; development of the palava hut methodology and operational guidelines; creating nationwide awareness on the process, safety and benefits of the palava hut system; and the conduct of the palava hut talks which he said will be in the form of truth-telling, atonement and psycho-social recovery.
He told the gathering that there will be palava hut dialogue and discussions in towns, villages, and cities across the country to provide victims and perpetrators the space to tell their war-related stories and seek means of fostering reconciliation.