Remembering End Of Bloodletting -When Vicious Warlords Finally Dropped Arms -Sen. Wesseh Stands Gap of Refreshing Memories
MONROVIA – Fourteen years later, when Liberia’s population was thoroughly decimated, leaving a colossal 250,000 compatriots sent to their untimely graves, when state infrastructures were razed to dust, untold agreements left for the dustbin and when the international community had nearly exhausted their human and financial resources, Liberia’s savage militarists and bloodthirsty politicians finally agreed to a deal. The fateful day was August 18, 2003. Yesterday marked the 17th Anniversary of that deal, also referred to as the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord or CPA. Though the dust of time appears to blur the cherished embers of this critical historic date, some of the surviving crafters are still around, fresh and appreciative to lift its significance and how it impacts on the country’s budding democracy and peace. The Analyst reports.
For nearly six months, as Liberian warlords and their technicians flooded flush hotels of the City of Accra being cuddled by international peace brokers, and a few political partners from the home front, helpless and near-hopeless citizens balkanized across the country and in exile were in excruciating expectation that there will be a solid deal. Then boom, August 18 came as the misery day. Everyone finally agreed to append their signature.
Liberia’s best historian would not remember how many times mischief, greed, and conspiracies denied Liberia, formerly dubbed the oasis of freedom and liberty in Africa, the moment for agreement to end the war which started December 24, 1989. Tracing all those frustrating efforts to pinned savage fighters to an agreement was cumbersome.
However finally on August 18, 2003, either because they were militarily exhausted to win outright victory on the battlefield or perhaps due to extreme pressure from unarmed Liberians and their international friends or perhaps because of the intervention of Providence, the multiple warring factions, and their white-collared funders, consented to sign the CPA.
Some of the key persons who lobbied for the deal and provided secretariat and philosophic guidance still feel obligated to pay tribute and evoke the tenuous nature of the Agreement despite the relative peace prevailing in the country.
River Gee County Senator, and one of Liberia’s outstanding progressive icons, Conmany B. Wesseh, is one of those persons. In a special statement making the 17th Anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he underscore to importance of the day and roving impact of contemporary political order and peace.
“Today is 17 years since the signing in Accra, Ghana of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA that ended the 14 years of the Liberian Civil War,” Senator Wesseh set the tune of his statement.
He recalled that three years ago, as Liberia marked 14 years of war and reaching 14 years of peace, he formally proposed to the National Legislature the adoption of August 18, as a National Peace Day and for appropriate national awards to be given out to those who work for peace in Liberia.
For the purpose of history, the River Gee Senator shared some relevant parts of a letter I wrote to the Senate on August 17, 2016.
“For 14 years, from December 24, 1989 to August 18, 2003, our country was engulfed in a war with itself during which about 250,000 people or 7% of the population at the time died; more than one million people or about 29% of the population were internally and externally displaced; nearly every family, village, town, community and city suffered physical devastation and psychological damage; social and economic infrastructure in hundreds of millions of US dollars, if not several billions of US dollars were destroyed; and Liberia was condemned to a failed state and a beggar nation.”
He noted that during the carnage, Liberian men and women, youth and students of all ethnic, religious and other backgrounds, joined by West African and other African peoples, and their governments and organizations and the international community through the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union, the United Nations and some of their member states and regional bodies, as well as, non-governmental and humanitarian organizations worked together in an extraordinary show of solidarity to end the war and restored peace in this country.
After much sacrifices by the Liberian people, the warring factions, political parties, religious leaders, women leaders, youth and students, and other civil society organizations crowned their many gatherings for peace by attending a peace conference in Ghana facilitated by ECOWAS, assisted by the African Union, the United Nations and the United States of America, with former Nigerian Head of State General A. Abdulsalami A. Abubakar as Principal Mediator.
Hon. Wesseh reflected further: On August 18, 2003, the Liberian leaders made a solemn and strong pledge to end the war by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which was the outcome of three months (June to August) of negotiations. By their signatures, the leaders, in the name of the Liberian people promised this country and the world: That Liberia would never go to war with itself again; that we would never allow the use of Liberian territory for war against its neighbors; that we would disarm ourselves and remove weapons of destruction from our politics; that we would rebuild, reform and re-create governing institutions such as the Legislature, the Executive and Judiciary necessary for enduring peace in this country; that ourdefense and security institutions would be reformed, overhauled and where necessary be recreated to serve the Liberian people; and never to be used as instruments of regime repression; that we would use electoral means to choose leaders as provided for in the constitution; that justice, truth and reconciliation will be core avenue to sustained peace; that we would give hope to the children and young people of our country that there is a future for which to live and work; and, that we were fully and unwaveringly committed to peace, socio-economic progress, democracy, and above all, to love of country.
Let’s be Proud
The Liberian progressive icon reminded Liberians that as the nation celebrates on 18th day of August, 2020, “we the people of Liberia must be proud of ourselves that we have been keeping our pledge for peace. We the people should therefore celebrate that peace have won against war.
To continue the victory of peace over war, he warned, “we must never allow any of our institutions or individual leaders to be so intolerant as to force our citizens to choose a foreign country to live as refugees fearing for their safety,” adding: “We must continue to freely organized ourselves to pursue our political, religious and other wishes, ambitions, interests and beliefs; and we must express our views on all matters without fear, but guided by patriotism, truth and civility.”
According to him, recent events in the country are raising fears against which the government of President George Manneh Weah must take appropriate actions.
“They are the growing violent incidents around the midterm senatorial elections. The legislature and all political actors have a role for the sustaining of genuine peace,” he stressed.
“To remind ourselves about the great Liberian pledge,” he proposed once again for the kind consideration of this Honorable Senate and the entire Legislature the passage into law, two actions:
The creation of a National Day of Peace to be celebrated on the 18th of August each year as a working holiday.
“On that day, throughout the country, there should be programs of thanksgiving, of peace education emphasizing “never again to war” based on the causes and lessons of the Liberian civil war, and of peace festivals, cultural, sporting and other activities.
He also proposed the creation of a special national recognition for peace which could be done in two categories at separate ceremonies – one to be named the Legislative Medal for Peace to be awarded annually by the National Legislature to those who our Legislative Leadership may consider to have contributed in special ways to the promotion and maintaining of peace in Liberia; and the other category could be called the State Medal of Peace to be awarded by the President of the Republic of Liberia to those individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the promotion and maintaining of peace in Liberia.
“I believe that by taking these legislative actions in remembrance of the CPA, we could be reminding ourselves, the people we represent and those who stood by Liberia especially those whose blood and sweat made us to be alive today that we made a promise for peace to keep and vow to renew in the best interest of our children and future generations,” the Senator said.