at first meeting, liberia coordinating mechanism welcomes progress made
in peace efforts, particularly deployment of 14,533 un troops
Noting Formidable Challenges Ahead,
Participants Express Concern at Slowness of Crucial Funding
Following is the text of the Final Communiqué issued, following the first meeting of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, United Nations and Economic Community of West African States Coordination Mechanism yesterday,
The first meeting of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), United Nations and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Coordination Mechanism was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 20 September 2004.
H.E. Charles Gyude Bryant, Chairman of the NTGL, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana, representing the Chairman of ECOWAS, and
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, delivered opening statements in which they all reiterated their support for the Coordination Mechanism as a useful tool for reinforcing cooperation in joint efforts to restore peace and stability in Liberia.
The meeting welcomed the remarkable progress that has been made over the last year in the efforts to bring peace to Liberia, particularly in such key areas as the deployment throughout the country of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which now has 14,533 troops on the ground, as well as 1,090 civilian police officers, who are helping to reform the national police and restore law and order; the disarmament and demobilization of over 76,000 combatants; the commencement of the training of recruits for a new Liberian police service; the efforts to extend State authority throughout the country; the preparations for the 2005 national elections; and the access that humanitarian agencies now have throughout the country. It noted that much of this progress was due to the partnership that has been developed between the NTGL, ECOWAS, UNMIL and all members of the United Nations family, as well as the support of donors and humanitarian organizations, and the determination of the Liberian people to put an end to violence and ensure that peace prevails in their country.
At the same time, the meeting recognized the many formidable challenges that lie ahead. In this regard, it stressed that a very pressing challenge was the lack of adequate funding for the reintegration and rehabilitation of
ex-combatants, as well as for the return of refugees and the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The meeting noted that any delays in the reintegration and resettlement of returning refugees and IDPs would impede recovery efforts, including the efforts to rebuild the communities outside Monrovia, which is necessary so that demobilized combatants can be reintegrated. It further noted, with concern, that such delays may affect the timetable for the registration of voters for the October 2005 elections, the preparation of which should be based on realistic and comprehensive benchmarks.
The meeting also expressed concern at the slow pace at which funding is being made available for Liberia’s reconstruction and recovery. To date, only $253 million has been received from the $520 million pledged by donors in February 2004. The meeting therefore urged donors to contribute the necessary funds in a timely manner for the reintegration of ex-combatants, as well as for the return of refugees and for the resettlement of IDPs, and to disburse the funds pledged for the reconstruction of Liberia on an urgent basis. At the same time, it urged the NTGL to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.
The meeting was concerned about the limited capacity of the NTGL to deliver basic services to the population and the continuing disputes over government posts, which have made it difficult for the Transitional Government to function effectively. The meeting expressed concern that the peace process continued to be threatened by some members of the former armed factions, who are not fully committed to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and who continue in their attempts to obstruct further progress. They called on the Liberian parties to put the national interest above personal interests, reaffirm their commitment to the peace process, and work constructively in a spirit of cooperation towards restoring security and stability in the country.
The meeting expressed its full support and encouragement to Chairman Bryant in his efforts to bring the hitherto divided country together. One of the key elements in this regard will be to empower and support Liberian civil society, including women’s associations.
The meeting expressed its gratitude to the ECOWAS Mediator, General Abubakar, as well as to the representatives of the International Contact Group on Liberia, and to the leadership of UNMIL for the key role they are playing in helping to keep the peace process in Liberia on track.
The meeting emphasized the importance of the national elections being held as scheduled in October 2005 and the urgent need for donor assistance to meet the funding requirements for the polls. It noted that the National Elections Commission would be responsible for the conduct of the elections, the United Nations would take the lead in coordinating all electoral assistance for the Commission and ECOWAS and the African Union would play a role in monitoring the polls. Finally, the meeting noted the importance of national ownership of the peace process by the people of Liberia.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, indicated that the ECOWAS Secretariat would be pleased to host the next meeting of the Coordination Mechanism to be held in early 2005 at its Headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
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