“We are encouraged by the recent example of the Iraqi people, who allowed their citizens all over the world to participate in the recent elections”, Mr. Watson noted.
According to the ULAA president, other countries like Mozambique, the Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, Haiti and Cape Verde also allow their foreign-based citizens to vote.
In his keynote address to the recent civil society conference in Monrovia, Mr. Watson said, “after enduring and surviving the pain of our recent past, this is their right that must not been seen or considered a privilege”.
Speaking on the topic, “Civil society Movement of Liberia, an instrument for social Justice, democracy, Human Rights and Economic development in Liberia”, Mr. Watson said all Liberians have been affected by the experiences that we have had as a people and as a nation.
“History has taught us that when people feel a part of something, they will take responsibility to ensure that something succeeds, when people are empowered and enfranchised they will respect and cherish the outcome of the process”, he noted.
Propounding further, Mr. Watson who departed the
country Sunday for America told the conference that
when people feel disenfranchised or left out, those
people will always find a way to affect the process
According to him, ULAA feels very strongly that Liberians in the Diaspora should be allowed to fully participate in all aspects of the reconstruction and democratisation process of Liberia.
Speaking on other issues, Mr. Watson revealed that along with hundreds of Liberian organizations and individuals in the Diaspora has since its inception been engaged in a parallel struggle for peace, justice, equality and sustainable democratic governance in Liberia.
Because of the Union’s strategic location and its history of advocacy, Mr. Watson said many Liberians in other parts of the world have come to see the organization as the major voice for the Liberian Diaspora.
He used the conference to call on Liberians to work hard to develop and strengthen their political voice in order to articulate new scenarios for peaceful coexistence and those who represent us must not turn a blind eye to corrupt practices.
Sounding a warning, the ULAA president said unless the chilly winds and dark clouds of corruption, injustice, greed and selfishness that continue to plague us in recent time are stopped, we are all doomed to plunge the future of Liberia into perennial or perpetual darkness.
Concluding, Mr. Watson said more than ever before now is the time for all of us to remain ever vigilant and watchful as we labour to build the kind of society that would engender sustainable peace and democratic governance in Liberia.
He said when the ugly realities of war first visited us, it was the local and indigenous people in the early 1990’s acting collectively through civil society leadership that first attempted to find solution to the crisis, adding that in every sphere of the now ended conflict, Liberians both at home and abroad sought through various means to bring the conflict to an end, while working to address the attendant needs of their fellow compatriots.
According to Mr. Watson, due to the prolonged nature of the war, much is not often said about the thousands of Liberians, who among other things, worked through their respective civil society organizations to pressure warring factions, provide humanitarian assistance, provide education, and keep our economy running even in the midst of chaos.
He said Liberians in the Diaspora held numerous demonstrations
in cities across Europe and America. Besides remittances
to their respective families, many Liberians sought
and secured humanitarian assistance and supplies for
our unfortunate people back home, saying that although,
there were still some among us who for very selfish
and devious reasons worked tirelessly against the
people’s effort for peace, civil society organizations
remain steadfast and vigilant in their quest. You
stood together, united in the belief that peace is
never assured under the barrel of the gun.
“Today, the long night of the war is finally fading and it is being gradually replaced by the welcome dawn of peace, reconciliation, rehabilitation and post conflict development and but we share the view that our work has only just begun. Indeed, the dawn is but a messenger that only announces the coming of day,” he noted, adding that the full and bright shining day of peace, though near, is yet to come.
“We who represent the people must not tire now. We must not sleep now. More than ever before now is the time for all of us to remain ever vigilant and watchful as we labor to build the kind of society that would engender sustainable peace and democratic governance in Liberia”, he propounded.
The convening of this all-important conference gives me hope that you are cognizant of the challenges ahead and are therefore seeking to prepare you accordingly. Mr. Watson spoke on the theme: “Civil Society Movement of Liberia, an instrument for Social Justice, Democracy, Human Rights and Economic Development in Liberia”.
Speaking further, the ULAA President said a recent conference in Cape Town, South Africa offered that, “The term ‘civil society’ embraces a wide range of individuals and institutions.
He added that sectors that play important roles in [seeking and securing peace], managing conflicts include religious, traditional and business leaders, women's organizations, [marketers], scholars and intellectuals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in mediation and capacity-building in support of [peace-building] conflict management...” A civil society movement in the context of our Liberian struggle suggests a collection of progressive Liberian groups representing the very heart of the masses: a single voice representing the interest of majority.
In a way, Mr. Watson said we also see Liberian organizations and individuals in the Diaspora as an extension of this great movement and that the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), along with hundreds of Liberian organizations and individuals in the Diaspora has since its inception been engaged in a parallel struggle for peace, justice, equality and sustainable democratic governance in Liberia.
He further stated that the union is the umbrella organization for a large number of Liberian organizations in the United States, Canada, South America and the Caribbean and because of the Union’s strategic location and its history of advocacy, many Liberians in other parts of the world have come to see the organization as the major voice for the Liberian Diaspora.