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Editorial: Development Hinges on Peace & Reconciliation

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The Liberian nation’s gross under-development, as it stands, has been characterized by rampant corruption, bolstered by self-interest, greed and deep-rooted division amongst its people on both the political and social fronts. This situation, if not addressed through genuine reconciliation, not only could plunge our country into another round of prolonged brutal civil conflict, but could also leave us in a state of perpetual underdevelopment.

Reconciliation is an element of peace, which provides a conducive environment for development. Hence, in the absence of true reconciliation in our post-war nation, what we see is just a mere ceasefire; meaning, the guns are silenced, but the factors that triggered their emergence and dominance are still lifting their ugly heads around. No doubt, the least sustained provocation could stir up violence that could reverse the little gains that have been made so far.

True, some may think that all is well and that things should just remain as they are. The danger in this is that we cannot live in a society where a good number of the people feel hurt, neglected, overlooked, marginalized, robbed and cheated, where hatred  and impunity reign, and pretend that all is well. This is outright stupidity! As long as individuals who perpetrated some form of injustices are still running around freely and have not accepted their responsibilities, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve genuine development here.

But it also needs to be remembered that true reconciliation also begins with oneself. The question is whether we as a nation are ready for reconciliation. Do we view the act of true national reconciliation as the task of the government alone?

The issue in focus is that once we as individuals continue to hold back on reconciling with ourselves and with the individuals in our communities, no amount of effort on the national front will have an effect on us.

To move this nation forward, to ensure growth and development, to enjoy genuine peace, we as a people and nation must choose to push for genuine reconciliation, not cosmetic treatment of it.

What we see around here has no semblance of true reconciliation. There is division everywhere – among politicians, among government officials, in the media, among market women, and the list goes on and on. Can we foster development in the midst of this deep-rooted division?

But more than that, we are even much more divided on the reconciliatory path to take. Some believe that only certain individuals should be brought to book, which poses a problem. In other words, the selective dispensation of justice frustrates true reconciliation.

Not only that. The fair distribution of the nation’s resources and the promotion of social justice are all of concerns, too. Many believe that when these issues are rightly addressed, then the steps toward reconciliation have begun.

But as Ambassador Steven Rapp, former Prosecutor of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, puts it: The choice is ours as citizens of this great nation, to choose whether we want to cement this peace by embracing its component of true reconciliation or just maintain the status quo. But, whatever we do, the rest of the world will continue to watch on.

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