Presidents Kufuor and Sirleaf meet to discuss findings from countrywide peacebuilding initiative

September 14, 2010

President John A. Kufuor, Chairman of the Interpeace Governing Council and former President of Ghana, met with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Thursday, 9th September, 2010, to present the latest results from a nationwide initiative that involved consultations with more than 10,000 Liberian citizens.

Both President Sirleaf and President Kufuor were pleased about the timing of the publication of the report. President Kufuor stated:

‚ÄúI was honored to present the report to President Sirleaf, which I hope will provide valuable input into the work of the government on the peacebuilding process.‚ÄĚ

He went on to say that President Sirleaf assured him that she will present the report to her cabinet for further consideration. The report is now available.

The research report highlights the views of Liberians on the challenges to lasting peace and is part of the work of the programme ‚ÄúPlatform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP).‚ÄĚ Implemented by the Joint Programme Unit for United Nations/Interpeace Initiatives, with funding from the Peacebuilding Fund, the programme is delivered in collaboration with eight civil society organizations. The key findings of the report fall into five themes: land and property disputes, local governance, rule of law and security, discrimination, identity and citizenship and unemployment and access to resources.

At an evening reception hosted by President Kufuor, he outlined the global operations of Interpeace initiatives in consolidating peace in post-conflict societies through focused and participatory dialogue.  Amongst those attending the reception were top government officials, traditional leaders, civil society and international NGO, diplomatic representatives and the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Madame Henrietta Mensah-Bonsu and Deputy Representative of the Secretary-General for Governance, Moustapha Soumare, all from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

President Kufuor, who was ‚Äėgowned‚Äô and made the honorary¬†‚ÄėParamount Chief‚Äô of the Zogeh¬†District in Nimba County, was also named Tuazama, a historic chieftain of that district of the county by the Traditional Authorities Council at the event. The designation of Kufuor was made in the presence of the district and county legislator, Hon. Worlea Saywah Dunah, who also was in attendance.

Friday 10th September, President Kufuor made a brief field visit to Cheesemanburg, along the Bomi Highway, a community that suffers ‚Äėmisplacement‚Äô as it is claimed by both Bomi and Montserrado County. Arriving in the settlement amidst jubilation by the local residents, President Kufuor, who himself played a pivotal role in the Liberian peace process, noted that:

‚Äúa morning with the team in the outlying community from the capital was the perfect opportunity for me to experience our work first hand.‚ÄĚ

The community of over 200 people presented President Kufuor a clean bowl with white satin and kola nuts indicative of their purity of heart and named him Boima Gbanjar Zinnah, after the originator of the town. President Kufuor then listened to the critical issues of the community as expressed by residents in a focus group conducted by a joint team of Interpeace and Initiatives for Positive Change (IPC), one of the local collaborating institutions under the P4DP.

Issues highlighted echoed the findings presented to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the previous day and included: ambiguous political identity of the township, gender and sexual based violence, bad road conditions, lack of payment of salaries for voluntary teachers as well as traditional practices that are hindering progress of young women in the community.

As residents of Cheesemanburg township are predominantly Muslims and noting that the visit coincided with the celebration of the end of Ramadan, President Kufuor offered a modest contribution of food towards the celebration.

James Shilue, Interpeace Programme Coordinator for Liberia summed up President Kufuor‚Äôs visit to Liberia as: ‚Äúvery successful‚ÄĚ. He¬†added: ‚ÄúWe were delighted to benefit from President Kufuor‚Äôs support and personal insights into peacebuilding in our country and his visit is an important milestone in our programme.‚ÄĚ