Liberia's foreign Minister Speaks Out

By: C. Winnie Saywah

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 2, 2003

Liberia’s Foreign Minister Monie Captan says the country is tied to the society of violence as determined by the people’s greed for power, personal interests etc., but peace can only be obtained if Liberians consider the root of their failure.

Minister Captan said no one who has fought war or held arms can build a sustainable future for the country with unbiased justice.

In addressing members of the Mano River Women Peace Network (MARWOPNET), and members of other women organizations at the opening of a two-day consultative forum on Tuesday, Minister Captan said, "the fact that we do not have peace is because we do not discuss the roots of the problem.."

Liberia’s Foreign Minister then wondered, as regards suggestions about power-sharing in government as solution to the ongoing crisis, "whether by giving jobs and sharing power to end the problem in Liberia will really bring peace", and asked, "Have not the government done it before?"

He said the objective of a lasting peace in Liberia must not only be to divide the country or give out jobs but "if we do review the mistake of the past, we are bound not to repeat it and there will be a way forward".

Min. Captan said President Charles Taylor has a responsibility to ensure that the best is obtained in the country and "the President cannot make any sacrifice that will not give us the results we need for peace".

He then cautioned, "we are building the foundation of the future with patience but if we are impatient to achieve it, Akosombo will not give us what we are opting for".

Speaking also on the role of civil society groups in the interest of peace in the country, Min Captan said, civil society groups have never been opportune to act during pending dialogue between government and dissidents but the pending peace talks have taken on a different structure which will include them.

He said the civil society’s role will be to challenge parties during negotiation and create a system in which people who govern will be able to meet the needs and listen to the will of the people.

The Foreign Minister added, "it is an opportunity for us to make a change and the civil society should serve as the check-mate in making sure that a long term agreement is kept".

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Inter Religious Council at the forum, Catholic Archbishop Michael Francis outlined several steps taken by the organization to enhance stability in the country.

Giving his organization’s overview on the peace process, Archbishop Francis said an agreed principle has been signed by the member of the council, and the government has been served copies.

Archbishop Francis said the principles include an immediate unconditional cease-fire, monitoring by international security force, disarmament of combatants and integration/rehabilitation of all fighting forces.

He said as all Liberians are advocating for peace, Liberians must engage in the process themselves with one agenda adding, "peace in Liberia mean peace for all of our neighboring countries".

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.