Ref. : Step to the Plate, Mr. President: On Rape and our Standing at the AU

Your Excellency:

Amidst the grinding national economic downturn exacerbated by the toll of COVID-19, we bring you esteemed salutations as Liberians all and sundry fight to make ends meet. As you continue to steer the affairs of state, it is indeed our pray and hope that your administration continues to prioritize the welfare of the citizenry, especially the vulnerable population, majority of whom are still anxiously awaiting delivery of the Stimulus Package promised as a result of the April 16, 2020 Joint Resolution passed by the National Legislature.

Your Excellency, as you rightly stated on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, at the end of the two-day Anti-Rape/SGBV Conference convened by your government, there should be zero-tolerance when it comes to issues of violence against women.  Mr. President, we hold you to your statement that your government will move with all deliberate speed to roll out the measures embedded in the Validated Roadmap which you were presented.

It is further hoped that the recommendations therein contained in the said Validated Roadmap will be fully supported and implemented so that the issue of rape is heightened, and that legal and psychosocial support systems are strengthened and enhanced to the optimum benefit of survivors. Your call for an extraordinary cabinet meeting two days following the Anti-Rape/SGBV Conference indeed signifies the seriousness which your government attaches to a grievous issue that continues to plague our nation. Of course, all eyes and ears will be focused on your government’s expeditious execution of those recommendations.

Having said that, we wish to remind Your Excellency that the nation was shell-shocked a few days ago when news broke out that we have lost our full membership rights at the African Union, and that Liberia’s status has now been downgraded to that of a mere observer. It has been further reported that our status at the AU was relegated because we have defaulted on dues payments, and that we have struggled to meet up with every single report to be submitted to the AU. Signals from diplomatic channels are said to suggest that because of the lateness or non-submission of these reports, the AU is concerned that the current administration in Liberia might not fully understand the workings of international diplomacy. In the wake of such heartbreaking news, there has been a lot of reactions – from the public and your officials.

Your Excellency, this segment of our Memo is not intended to belabor the issue of whether or not Liberia has lost her membership with the African Union. For us, the issue is whether or not our status has been downgraded from full member to observer.

Like other well-meaning Liberians, we are concerned that as a founding member of the Organization of African Union (OAU) which Liberia helped to establish on May 25, 1963, and out of which the African Union was birthed on July 9 2002, this glorious land of Liberty just cannot afford to be relegated to the dustbin of international relations as was experienced during our prolonged civil conflict.

Our historical alignments with sub-regional, regional and global bodies have always been heralded. Liberia played yeoman leadership roles in the establishment of the Mano River Union (MRU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU), the United Nations, as well as regional and global financial institutions.

As a strategic partner to other global organizations we cannot afford for our voting rights to be marginalized because of default on dues payment or our weak reporting system. It is in this regard, Your Excellency, that we kindly beseech your good offices to do all within your power to ensure that Liberia remains in good standing with the African Union.

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