Monrovia — Amid the controversy emerging from the just-ended Montserrado County by-elections, outgoing United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and resident Coordinator for Liberia has urged Liberians not to take the peace the country is enjoying granted.
Yacoub El Hillo is concerned about the growing tension including frequent protests and warned that never again should Liberia go back to the dark days of war.
He praised the current status of Liberia: Liberians now disagreeing to agreeing on things.
"Liberia is now using the force of logic and reasoning in solving their problems instead of going back to the dark days," he said.
He said Liberia has moved from being a recipient of peace to a donor of peace since the departure of UNMIL, by setting a specific example of sending Liberian peacekeepers to Mali.
However, one year after the departure of UNMIL, the country has faced economic downturn and mounting political tensions.
On June 7, thousands of demonstrators led by the Council of Patriots took to the streets of Monrovia to pressure the government and they submitted a petition to the government, outlining several short and long term measures they called on the government to implement to curb corruption and economic stagnation.
Despite these political tension, the United Nations diplomat is confident that Liberia is prepared and will never go back to war, saying, "No amount of troops sent to Liberia could bring back the country from war status to peace if the people were not willing to get involved in the peace process."
Hillo spoke when he was honored and gowned by the Liberia Crusader for Peace and some traditional chiefs and elders for his contributions in Liberia's peace.
The traditional leaders and chiefs during the program bestowed on the outgoing UN envoy a title of a chief, thus naming him chief "Kanakai" which in the local Liberian Vai tribe means "A light or peace maker".
Speaking earlier at the program, the executive Director of the Liberia Crusaders for Peace, Madam Juli Endee described the honoree as a man of peace who Liberia has benefited from his contributions through his work within the United Nations.
She said it was not a mistake to bring together traditional leaders who have seen the contributions of the outgoing UN envoy.
"We want to thank Ambassador Hillo for his remarkable contributions and service to Liberia, especially in the areas of peace, security, women leadership and empowerment and development and social justice for our people and country," she noted.
Madam Endee, who is also Liberia's Culture Ambassador, praised Ambassador Hillo, saying, "Liberians from all walks of life appreciate the contribution of the UN where Hillo works."
The program brought together traditional leaders, members of the Governor Council of Liberia, civil society groups and the public.