Monrovia — NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development has intensified its peace and reconciliation dialogues across several districts in Bong and Margibi Counties.
The fundamental objective of the peace and reconciliation dialogues is to consolidate peace in Liberia during and after the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
According to a release signed by S. Aaron Weah-Weah, III, and issued on Monday, November 13, these events have been implemented at the county, district and community levels with the participation of diverse members of the county.
The project, NAYMOTE says is intended to leverage ongoing peace and reconciliation efforts currently taking place in both Bong and Margibi Counties as part of the National Peace Plan; and at the end of the project a five-year peace and reconciliation vision and action plan will be developed in support of the county's development initiatives.
The project has been implemented with support from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and five district levels dialogues have been conducted in Weala, Unification City and Lakayta in Margibi County as well as Palala and Salala districts in Bong County.
Two hundred county authorities, local leaders, women and youth leaders, representatives from the National Elections Commission, civil society organizations, Liberia National Police, and the media participated in these five events across the two counties.
The dialogue is creating opportunities for district stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to have discussions on the trends of conflict in their community, district and county, the sources and actors of conflicts, the consequences of conflicts and use consensus to develop the 'District Action Plan' for Reconciliation and Peace Consolidation.
Participants have identified social, economic and political marginalization as some issues of concern within their districts. They also identified hatred, biased media coverage, high unemployment among youth, drug abuse, land crisis, power greed among local leaders, corruption, lack of accountability or information on the management of the county social development funds, poor handing of election matters/campaign, disunity among family members due the representatives election that needed to be addressed.
"We have few local radio stations and they are always spreading misleading information, especially about the ongoing situation between Liberty Party and the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Radio stations are the ones creating the problems in or community because of the false information spread. My advice to these stations is that community radio needs to stop misleading our people and they also need to be trained as professional journalists. This situation is making our people afraid and might drive business people away". Omega M. Sawyer, Township Commissioner, Lakayta said.
According to NAYMOTE, these dialogues have led leaders in some of the project districts to set up Peace and Reconciliation Committees (PRC) to take on peace initiatives including the organization of reconciliation dialogues especially between defeated representative candidates and those elected in their district; while leaders in these committees are appearing on radio talk shows and discussing ways forward to reconciliation, educating citizens about their rights, roles and responsibilities as well as advancing messages on the essence and benefits of reconciliation and peace in their communities.
Participant thanked NAYMOTE and UNMIL for the initiative as reconciliation and the consolidation of peace will enhance development and unity in the county and called for more of such engagements, which have provided citizens the space to sit face to face and express their frank opinions on issues that are holding their district back and intensifying disunity.
"For too long we sit in our corners and talk about these same issues, we have not had the time to face each other to say what we are saying today, I want to tell NAYMOTE thank you, I am sure from this project we can settle our differences, work toward those things that will bring development and unity in our communities," intoned Alfred Cooper, a General Town Chief.
NAYMOTE further noted that these dialogues have provided opportunities for people in rural communities to express their opinions on community development issues, interact with their local leaders, county authorities, youth and women leaders as well as the media; adding "they are all charting the way forward to achieve sustainable peace and reconciliation."
He outlined that during the project period, NAYMOTE will conduct eight district level meetings, two county plenary meetings, four community dialogues and two town hall meetings with the support of the established Technical Working Groups (TWG) in both counties.
The institution will also establish a five-year county vision for county-based reconciliation under the project reconciliation dialogues in support of peace consolidation and improving social services at the county levels.
NAYMOTE is the National Youth Movement for Transparent Election Elections. Established in 2001 by students' leaders and activists, the institution has been one of the leading grassroots organizations promoting democracy, peace building, human rights and civic engagement in Liberia.