Citizens Elated Over National Conference – Many Say It Holds Prospects for Political and Economic Healing
In a couple of days or perhaps weeks, Liberians will be witnessing the coming together of eminent citizens, political groups and government officials from across the country into a single meeting at which the health of the nation will be discussed. This is expected to be first true national assembly of Liberians since the civil conflict; courtesy of President George Manneh Weah and a few eminent persons who initiated the idea of the conference to reduce belligerent politics and focus the attention of the nation on critical economic and social problems plaguing national growth and happiness. As The Analyst reports, a cross section of Liberians appear to be excited by the news of the assembly and are calling on all Liberian politicians, professionals and public servants to see the national dialogue as the beginning of a new governance order towards lasting peace and unity.
A day after The Analyst reported that efforts by the George Weah administration and some eminent Liberians were underway to host a big national conversation on the social, political and economic state of Liberia, several Liberians have been voicing out their delight and appreciation by the move.
The report on the national conference has sparked spirited debate amongst many Liberians, mainly ordinary citizens, with some terming it timely and constructive.
The Analyst reported Wednesday based on information gathered from multiple credit sources both in the public and private sectors that friendly discussions were ongoing amongst prominent Liberians and partners for the conduct of a big national conference in the country.
News of the expected conference comes at a time when the country is embroiled in high political tensions and high inflationary impact on the country’s economic.
Those involved with the organizing process contend that bringing together a broad-spectrum of the population will help reduce growing political tension in the country and its impact on peace and stability.
The sources also say the conference will sample and harness expert opinions and solutions necessary to rescue the country’s critical economy.
Groups expected to be part of the conversation, according to sources, include government officials, political leaders, civil society groups, the UN, USA, AU, ECOWAS and interreligious council, amongst others.
Citizens Reaction Positively
Liberians who picked up the news immediately began to react, largely expressing their delight over the idea of national dialogue.
While some talk-show discussants were making known their views on the matter, which were dominantly supportive of the conference, other Liberians who were meeting in street corners and tea shops were doing likewise.
“This is one of the smartest moves any standing government can make and any group of eminent citizens can put forward,” said James L. Nelson, speaking at a jam-packed sea shop Wednesday afternoon on Benson Street. “Liberia is for all Liberians and there is nothing wrong when the government officials and other groups of Liberians meet to reason together on the need to solve problems facing the country and the people.”
Nelson’s last point was in reaction to some discussants at the teashop meeting who opined that the by convening the national conversation, the administration of George Weah was finding way to co-opt critical voices, possibly create a one-party rule and/or mask its incapacity to govern.
But Nelson reacted: “If it is true that the administration is supporting the convening of the national conference, I believe it’s the most pragmatic, selfless and nationalistic leadership demonstrated by any sitting government. A regime which is not struck to the philosophy of ‘winner takes all’ or ‘winner knows all’ is what Liberia needs.”
Supporting Nelson’s position was Maryann Jartu Flomo, who said: “A national conversation like the one underway provides a platform for all citizens to be heard and to contribute a quota. And the national leadership which does not elbow people from reaching that point must be hailed. The current government did very well to think about this idea because will be bring all of our people together in one accord over the problems the nation is faced with.”
A couple of talk show hosts and their discussants were similarly positive in their utterances about the pending conference.
They contend that the conference, which reportedly will spanned for nearly two months, is necessary and in the positive direction.
“Only those who long for deep division, disunity and chaos will oppose to such an important gathering of Liberians,” said caller on a popular talk show. “In like these, which our economy is in shambles and many are beating war drums in the name of politics, this is the right time for Liberians to meet. We hated each other too much in this country and killed one another for years. Talking peace and talking development should not be a nuisance. It should be a valued option.”
Issues of the Conference
Some sources who spoke to The Analyst hinted that the dialogue will focus mostly on pressing national issues, including the economy, health, education, judiciary, security, amongst several other things germane to national peace and development.
In the last three to four weeks, according to other sources, several concerned eminent Liberians have been holding consultations with high government officials over the need to bring Liberian groups together to discuss the stated issues.
One source who did not want to be named in print said the George Weah administration is in full cooperation with national elders on the need for the dialogue which.
Even the government is concerned about how to address burning issues that have taken center stage in the country in recent times, since they have the propensity to cause upheavals and the potential loss of gains made.
“This is what we want in this country, because the noise is too much,” said a source who added: “It is interesting to note that the Weah administration is leading this effort. It is totally revolutionary in our governance system. Hope all hands remain on deck until the event is fully held.”
Conversations about the planned forum continue in several quarters. Meanwhile, a team of eminent citizens have empaneled themselves and working out the detailed processes that will characterize the holding of the conference.