Liberia: Pres. Weah Full Speech At the Opening of the Mano River Union Diplomatic, Peace and Security a Conference

Her Excellency Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor,Vice President of the Republic of Liberia

The Speaker, President Pro-Tempore and Members of the 54th Legislature;

His Honor the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia;

The Dean and Members of the Cabinet;

Your Excellencies, Foreign Ministers of the Mano River Union;

Honorable Defense Ministers of the Mano River Union;

Honorable Chiefs of Defense Staff of the Mano River Union;

The Secretary-General of the Mano River Union

Other Officials of Governments of the Mano River Union here present;

The Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps;

His Excellency Maman Sambo Sidikou,Representing the Chairperson of the African Union Commission;

His Excellency Mr. Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh,Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS)

Her Excellency Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey,Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana & Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers (who is virtually attending this ceremony);

His Excellency Ambassador Isbayene Driss,Representing The Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates of the Kingdom of Morocco;

Mr. Niels Scott,Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Liberia

Distinguished Delegates of The Mano River Union Peace, Security and Democracy Conference;

Other Officials of Government here present;

Former Officials of Government;

Leaders of Political Parties;

Business and Religious Leaders;

The Chairman, National Traditional Council of Liberia and Traditional Leaders;

Civil Society Leaders and Organizations;

Youth Leaders and Students;

Women Leaders;

Esteemed Guests;

Members of The Fourth Estate;

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of the Government and People of Liberia, and in my own name, I wish to welcome all of you to this historic Diplomatic, Peace, Security and Democracy Conference of the Mano River Union.

I wish to thank my Dear Brothers and Colleagues, His Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire; and His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; and their respective Governments, for accepting and supporting Liberia's proposal for convening this Conference.

I also wish to express my thanks and appreciation to the distinguished leaders of the Mano River Union, the African Union, and the United Nations, for lending their support to the convening of such a Conference at this time, and for this purpose.

For nearly five decades of its existence, the Mano River Union has been the vehicle of aspiration for diplomacy, peace, security, stability, democracy and development for our sub-region.

In carrying out its mandate of promoting peace and regional stability amongst its four member states of Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, it has consistently collaborated and cooperated with ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations.

However, the effective execution of its mandate is now being challenged by the porosity of our borders, which permits the easy movements of small arms and light weapons, contraband, and also facilitates other cross-border crimes and illegal operations.

At the same time, part of our shared legacies is internal political discordance that historically caused the breakdown of democracy and governance at some point in each of the Member States of our sub-region. These unfortunate experiences must now inform our quest for durable diplomacy, peace, security and democracy in the sub-region.

In view of these threats, we are pleased to learn that the Mano River Union is working with ECOWAS, UNOWAS and other partners to revise its 2012 15th Protocol on Peace, Security and Defense.

This ECOWAS-MRU collaboration should be viewed as part of the ongoing ECOWAS and AU reform processes; in which the decentralization of regional and sub-regional responsibilities are undertaken to reduce cost and ensure the sustainability of peace, security, and democracy, at the local level of development.

Therefore, the MRU-ECOWAS collaboration should support conflict management, resolution, and political transformation in Guinea as an added impetus to the proposed revision of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

In the premise, I propose that a merged ECOWAS-AU-MRU Mission, supported by the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund, should be established to mediate in the current Guinean transitional arrangements being undertaken to prepare Guinea for democratic elections and constitutional democracy.

In this regard, we urge the Secretary-General and the Secretariat of the Mano River Union to reach out to the African Union, United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and Peace Building Fund, to foster stronger and more active partnerships in peacebuilding initiatives for the Mano River Union. We also encourage these organizations to welcome and support such partnership outreach.

The ECOWAS Commission's partnership with the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office can also provide synergies with these peacebuilding initiatives.

EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:If we are to be successful in finding sustainable solutions for peace, security, stability and democracy, then we must begin to examine the root causes and determinants of conflict and insecurity in our sub-region.

Some of these will include addressing essential economic matters of growth and development; including multi-dimensional poverty, lack of political inclusiveness, gender inequity and youth unemployment, as well as potential threats of terrorism, extremism, climate change, epidemics, and pandemics such as Ebola and COVID-19; to name a few.

On the political front, we must abide by constitutional term limits and guarantee political inclusion to avoid popular dissent that stifles the smooth transition of power and stability in our sub-region.

We must utilize all conflict management mechanisms already developed by the MRU and ECOWAS to address the ongoing situation in our Sisterly Republic of Guinea, where, after the coup d'état of September 5, 2021, the Transitional Authorities are galvanizing the support of the Guinean masses in preparing that Member State for democratic elections and the resumption of constitutional order and democracy.

Liberia has a natural interest in this process because of its interlinked historical, geographical, cultural, and socio-economic relationship with the People of the Republic of Guinea.

Let us remain engaged with the political situation in Guinea for a smooth transition to democratic elections and the resumption of constitutional order and democracy.

We look forward to the positive, practical, and innovative outcomes of this Conference to help accelerate the transitional process towards democratic governance in Guinea.

EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED DELEGATES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

I hereby declare that the Mano River Union Diplomatic, Peace, Security and Democracy Conference in Liberia is now formally opened.

I thank you.

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