Grand Gedeh Association in the
Americas is Shocked by News of the Walk Out by the Three Warring Factions
December 2, 2003
The Grand Gedeh Association in the Americas, Inc. was shocked by news of the three warring factions to the Liberian conflict walking out of the inaugural meeting of the National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration. The Commission is charged with the responsibility of disarming all combatants under the Accra Peace Accord that brought the current interim government of Liberia to power. According to one news report, “…at the start of the meeting these representatives (of the warring factions) demanded "dozens of positions for themselves" in certain ministries as well as public corporations as a precondition for participating in the Commission's work. The participants then walked out of the meeting, failing to adopt the disarmament scheme…”
Walking out of a meeting on disarmament, something upon which the success of the Accra Accord rests, has the potential to once again frustrate the hope and aspirations of the Liberian people and must be a cause for concern to all Liberians. This act has all the appearance of an attempt to hold the disarmament process, and therefore the peace and stability of Liberia, hostage. And it would be a real tragedy if this were to happen for this would, without any doubt, prove false everything the warring factions had told the Liberian people about why in fact they had been fighting - the freedom and well-being of the Liberian people. This apparent attempt to hold the peace process hostage for government positions will also confirm what some have been saying all along - that the war had very little to do with the well-being of the Liberian people and all to do with personal gains.
The Grand Gedeh Association would like to believe that the leaders of the warring factions fully understand the suffering of the Liberian people and their longing for real and lasting peace and security without delay. We would also like to believe the faction leaders when they say the war is over and that they fully support the Accra Peace Accord. They must now back these public statements with concrete actions. Walking out of a meeting on disarmament is certainly not the way to do this.
Fully disarming all combatants is crucial to the future of our country and must be linked to nothing, especially not something as fleeting as a 24-month government job. The many young people who have known nothing but war for more than a decade deserve an opportunity to rebuild their lives, and our people in the interior need, without delay, an arms-freed countryside so they can begin in earnest to rebuild their lives. We have no doubt that the UN disarmament program will provide for the rehabilitation of these young people as well as assist them acquire marketable and productive skills.
Let there be no mistake where the people of Grand Gedeh stand on the issue of disarmament and the restoration of security and peace to Liberia. Our position is one of unqualified support for the UN program and the Accra Accord. No one who attempts in any way to prolong the suffering of the Liberian people will enjoy our support.
We are calling on the leaders of all the warring factions
to return to the disarmament talks without preconditions and to fully
support the UN efforts at giving our people real hope and a second chance.
Disagreements about political issues, including government positions,
must be dealt with separately. We are also calling for the implementation
of the Accra Accord without prejudice and in good faith.
Finally, the Grand Gedeh Association is calling on all Liberian organizations abroad and at home, student groups in Liberia, the market women, civil society, etc., to speak out on this very crucial issue. We must not leave the future of our country to just Jacques Klein and the US Ambassador to Liberia. With one accord, we must let the factions know that we will look with disfavor on any effort that has the potential to undermine international efforts to bring lasting peace to Liberia. We must all do our part to end the nightmare.
William G. Nyanue