President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has officially launched the National Palava Hut Program meant to promote and consolidate lasting peace and harmony throughout Liberia.
In the presence of her Ivoirian counterpart, President Alassane Ouattara, traditional leaders, elders, diplomats accredited near this capital, women and youth groups, and other guests from both Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, the Liberian leader 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," adding that this will further consolidate the country's peace and democracy.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf spoke in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, on Saturday, October 19, when she officially launched the program on the grounds of the Administrative Building, the process to be spearheaded by the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR).
Article 10, Section 46 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Act mandates the INCHR to ensure implementation of the TRC's recommendations. In 2009, the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission 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.
This program will afford anyone who has committed, whether knowingly or unknowingly, 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 - that will be undertaken by the National Human Rights Commission.
During the launch, President Sirleaf called on all Liberians - 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.
The Liberian leader used the occasion to thank her brother and colleague, President Ouattara, and his compatriots, traditional chiefs, elders, parliamentarians and government officials for gracing the historic occasion.
She indicated that although the launch of the Palava Hut Program was an internal event, their presence gave added impetus to all Liberians and Ivoirians committed to peace and reconciliation.
President Ouattara, responding on behalf of his compatriots, said he was impressed with the process and noted that it is very important to continue to reinforce peace and reconciliation.
He recapped both countries' experiences of civil conflict - a few years back for Liberia and very recently for Côte d'Ivoire - and said he is impressed by President Sirleaf's commitment to ensuring that peace and reconciliation is achieved throughout the country. "In launching this event," President Ouattara said, "I would like to congratulate you, thank you and encourage all of you."
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 is only one of the significant steps taken in the process of post-conflict reconciliation, peace-building and national unity.
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 will be in the form of truth-telling, atonement and psycho-social recovery.
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.