According to Liberia’s current National Peace Ambassador Dr. Richard Tolbert III, while there seems to be some sort of concerted effort on the part of government to ensure physical security, the issue of human security is heavily downplayed, with reconciliation taking the back burner.
Outlining some of the key achievements of his office since his appointment by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2015, Rev. Tolbert said his office organized series of consultations between conflicting stakeholders as a means of averting national crisis. From the planting of peace trees at the Duport Road and Center Street Cemeteries as well as at the Lutheran Church Compound by Muslim and Christian youths, Ambassador Tolbert said his office has also held consultations between motorbike riders and the police on the one hand; and students of the University of Liberia and UL authorities on the issue of tuition hike and related issues.
In reviewing the terms of reference and deliverables of his office, Dr. Tolbert underlined the lack of funding from government as key challenge to the Office of the Peace Ambassador.
Also hammering on the issue of government’s non-commitment when it comes to funding, the Director of the Land Task Force (LTF,) Stanley Toe, stated categorically that despite the goodwill from the donor community to support peace and reconciliation initiatives, government has not made good on its promise to prioritize implementation of peace activities.
Mr. Toe disclosed that through the Peace Building Fund, the LFT established six Land Coordination Centers (LCCs) around Liberia.
“Because of that effort, 1,250 land cases were registered, with 115 of those cases resolved,” Toe said, attributing the low land resolution cases to the high cost of private survey fees. In most land resolution cases, government surveyors are difficult to engage, Toe said.
Since the end of the project, all of the LCCs have completely shut down, with the exception of the Montserrado County office,” he disclosed, adding, “Since our contracts were terminated in 2015, we have not had any pay from our donor partners. Government needs to take ownership of peace and reconciliation interventions if we must end those drivers that fueled the civil conflict.”
For his part, UNMIL Reconciliation Officer Par Skoled strongly indicated the need for government to supported peace building initiatives by supplementing efforts of donor partners. He said this is one of the surest means of showing commitment to institutions that are in the forefront of implementing peace building initiatives.
But supporting government’s peace and reconciliation effort, Morris Kromah of the Ministry of the Finance and Development Planning said the government of Liberia has synchronized peace building initiatives and national development interventions through its Agenda for Transformation programs and Vision 2023.
Citing the case where government currently provides US$250 to extremely poor families as a means of alleviating poverty and impacting rural communities, Kromah said such direct cash transfer keeps young girls in schools while earning decent income from government.
The overarching objective of the current review is to bring together partners implementing PBF supported projects and UN agencies to assess progress against expected outputs and outcomes of the national reconciliation program in Liberia. The review is also intended to determine and address potential risks to implementation of ongoing projects.