A group of academicians under the banner, ‘Dr. Augustus Cain Lecture Series’ organized by the Research Department of the Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) are suggesting to the government here to declare a national reconciliation day to be observed as a ‘national holiday’ in resolving the protracted division between the settlers and natives.
The presenters include; Professor/ Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, former Chief Justice; Madam Frances Deigh Greaves, National Chairman, National Civil Society Council of Liberia; Rev. William Richard Tolbert, III, head of Peace and Conflict Prevention and son of slain President William R. Tolbert; Rev. Dr. Herman Browne, President of Cuttington University; Professor Dembey Sayndee, director of the Kofi Annan Institute of Conflict Transformation at the University of Liberia, and Rev. Bartholomew Colley, acting chairman, Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia.
Others are Dr. Jallah Bartu, Constitutional lawyer, Professor of law at the University of Liberia and former chairman of the Liberia Law Reform Commission and Mr. Nathaniel Walker, Liberia liaison officer, Early Warning Directorate, office of the Vice President of ECOWAS Commission on peace building and conflict transformation suggested in their separate presentations for a National Reconciliation Day.
According to them, this should be a national policy to mitigate the historical fuel that has accounted for wars and Liberia needs to move on with development.
In their concept paper, they explain the purpose of the policy shall be to bring face to face descendants of both settlers and aborigines through their leaders to finally smoke peace pipe by government apologizing to all, for historic wrongs and reparations done.
The proposal notes that government is continuity, and what advances conflict is the art of undoing policies whether progressive and in the best interest of the people, simple because a new administration is installed. “Government needs to set up a policy integration commission that will from time to time advise on policy change or adoption of positive aspects of policies [from] previous administrations to ensure the doctrine of continuity,” they further emphasized.
The paper suggests that the Ministry of Education should develop modules on peace studies and inculcate them in elementary and high school curriculum throughout the nation to help shape the minds of future leaders from violence to peace and unity. This should run hand in hand with Liberia’s history.
“National policies on peaceful co-existence need to be dusted from the shelves and put into action. Policy makers need to conduct research of policies adopted in the past and din the present and analyze effects and impacts as well as reviewing policies designs of the international system to determine their suitability to the peculiar problems before adopting them. This could be the function of the Policy Integration Commission,” the report advised.
It maintains government should review areas of depravation within Article 22 of the Liberian constitution which states, “(a) every person shall have the right to own property alone as well as in association with others; provided that only Liberian citizens shall have the right to own real property within the Republic. (b) Private property rights, however, shall not extend to any mineral resources on or beneath any land or to any lands under the seas and waterways of the Republic. All mineral resources in and under the seas and other waterways shall belong to the Republic and be used by and for the entire Republic.”
The concept paper adds the Constitution speaks on maintaining the culture and if the culture has to be maintained, government has to review and amend Article 56b which states (b) “There shall be elections of Paramount, Clan and Town Chiefs by the registered voters in their respective localities, to serve for a term of six years. They may be re-elected and may be removed only by the President for proved misconduct. The Legislature shall enact laws to provide for their qualifications as may be required”.
The presenters note that to depoliticize those positions, locals’ tribal institutions should be given ownership and allowed to utilize local processes adopted by the tribes. This preserves ethnic and cultural identities. On the other hand, there seems to be a democratic wrong committed in article 56 (b)
“The people cannot elect and the president removes. Removal clause should be impeachment in a local assembly or a quasi legislative body like the County Council with legislative powers”, the paper reads.
According to the report, a system has to be put in place that gives peace building local ownership and that tribal and community leadership around Liberia should be given training and leverage to conduct peace processes using improved tools but not eliminating processes peculiar and acceptable to them.
The academicians call on government to redefine celebration of Decoration Day so that it has impact on national unity and reconciliation. “The day should honor past leaders who made contributions to where the country is now and resolve whatever divides us instead of only visiting graves of departed loved ones. It must have a more revealing national significance,” the report concludes. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne