“We are One People” -VP Koung Arouses Patriotism

MONROVIA: In expressing the essence of the National Unification Day celebration which is held annually in Liberia, Vice President  Jeremiah Kpan Koung has said that despite the many challenges the country has faced over the years, the Liberian people have continued to strive for togetherness, accentuating that this year’s “celebration is to arouse our national consciousness on the importance of unity and integration for the maintenance of peace and the attainment of sustainable development of Liberia.”

VP Koung made the statement yesterday at this year’s celebration of the National Unification Day held at the Centennial Pavilion in Monrovia when he deputized for President joseph Nyuma Boakai who has been away attending the US-Africa Business Summit in the United States of America.

“We have come a long way on a journey replete with challenges, ranging from the struggle for national independence, to the integration of Indigenous Liberians into society, to the struggle for establishment of multi-party democracy and culminating with a bloody civil war which tore the fabric of our nation. Throughout these years and in spite of the multitude of challenges, you, the Liberian people, have continued to demonstrate your resilience in the quest for National Unity. Today, we have come  not only to celebrate the 64th Anniversary of National Unification and Integration, but to also salute our people for keeping our Nation peaceful, irrespective of our political, ethnic, and religious differences.

“Let it be known that the bonds which tie us together as a people are much stronger than the elements which intend to divide us. Although our history informs us about the long-standing divides between “Americo-Liberians” and “Indigenous Liberians”, which contributed to a fourteen (14) year civil war, our government has a responsibility to change these negative narratives. Today, Liberia enjoys a representative democracy, in which the voices of all Liberians are heard through the ballot process. It is with a sense of pride that I can today report that Liberians live in a society where the exclusions and deprivation of basic individuals’ rights suffered by people based on their ethnicity are a thing of the past. There are no “Americo-Liberians” or “Indigenous Liberians”; we are one people with one common patrimony, striving to achieve a shared destiny, a better Liberia for our children to inherit”, VP Koung said.

VP Koung who was attending the first major national gathering after his inauguration with President Boakai, said that he was of the conviction “we have come of age, our experiences have taught us that Unity is the umbrella which protects us from external threats and serves as the most essential requirement for peaceful coexistence”.

“The generations before us did their utmost best to keep our Country alive, but certainly fell short of the responsibility to keep our people united. It is now our task to champion the cause for a united people and maintain our growing peaceful coexistence.

“Let me at this juncture applaud all stakeholders who continue to make immense sacrifices to keep this nation peaceful and stable; I believe that Liberia is gradually emerging as a post-conflict success story, because we continue to make significant progress in unifying our people at all levels of society. Yes, we have more work to do, but as we take stock of what we have achieved thus far, we must remain aware of the past mistakes which plunged us into our darkest times.

“This year’s National Unification and Integration Day theme: “Healing the past, Uniting the Present and Embracing the future through Arts and Culture”, presents a clear pathway to enable us to achieve National Unity. Across the 15 counties of Liberia, there are similarities in the culture and arts of our people, which upholds a sense of a shared African identity, and which could be employed to foster unity. The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism along with our Cultural Ambassador must be more intentional in designing and executing programs which promote our sense of shared Liberian cultural identity. Despite the challenges of the past, our shared Liberian cultural identity demands respect for our elders and traditions, compassion to the needy, especially strangers, and an endearing connection to Mama Liberia. We have a sacred duty to amplify these values to the next generation of Liberians, so as to guarantee that the mistakes of the past which divided our beloved Nation are never repeated”, he said.

He commended the citizens, including those in the diaspora “for keeping our political discourse civil and peaceful, adding  “even when we disagree, we must do so, bearing in mind that we all share in the glory when this nation makes progress, and we will all collectively bear the consequences if we go backwards”.

VP Koung asserted that the country continues to receive commendations from friendly nations across the world on the improvement of the country’s democratic credentials, “we must exercise caution on destructive criticisms and refrain from acts which undermine our peace and democracy”.

“I am aware that our political landscape is divided on strong social-economic and political lines; however, we must remain vigilant to ensure that our political disagreements do not divide us but that we create an environment conducive for the exchange of opposing ideas to improve our system of governance, which will in turn uplift the lives of our people.

“Let me emphasize that there is no Green, Red, Yellow, or Blue Liberia; instead, it is the Republic of Liberia consisting of people with different political persuasions. To you, citizens and members of the opposition, we thank you for continuously keeping Our Government’s feet to the fire; it is your criticisms and suggestions which keeps us focused and determined to deliver on our promises to the Liberian people. We applaud your ideas and recommendations, because the inclusion and consideration of the views of those who may oppose us play a pivotal role in fostering national unity. The opportunity for all to be heard, in contrast to being silenced because of a disagreement of views, is the foundation of a united and fully integrated Liberia. A Liberia that we must aspire to cultivate and work diligently to bequeath to our future generations”, VP Koung said

Speaking on the role of the ruling government as it relates to the promotion of good governance, VP Koung encouraged the ruling establishment to remain tolerant, accepting that criticisms are crucial ingredients of a functioning democracy. He urged the government to embrace the critical views of others in good faith and “make the appropriate adjustments to our strategies for addressing the socio-economic needs of our people”.

“To you, our international partners and friends, we are grateful for your unwavering support for our democratic process, which secures our peace and consequently promotes national unity.  Your support of our development agenda sends a clear signal that Liberia continues to get the necessary attention and support, as we seek to build a better Liberia.

“The time is now! this generation must continue to exert all efforts to unite our people; we MUST sacrifice our individual interests for National interests, only then will the Unity and Integration we seek for Liberia be Possible!”, he concluded.

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